In the aftermath of last night’s 2nd Presidential debate, I thought I would share some very human insights about how important it is for believers not to get stuck in the strong currents of polarization where we unknowingly join paranoid tribes (of any side) rather than serving as good, and godly, citizens. Donald Miller, in his book Scary Close, shares this eye-opening piece that is important for us to understand as we prepare to vote.
I’ve a friend who was attacked for more than a month by a well-known cable personality. My friend wrote a book encouraging Christians to work toward social justice and the talk-show host labeled him a socialist. He said my friend was one of the enemies of America and essentially made a lot of fearful people think my friend was the Antichrist. The talk-show host talked about him on the show for nearly a month, putting his name on his blackboard of enemies. Right in the heat of it my friend visited my home and talked about how little of what the talk-show host was saying was true and how much it was affecting his family . . .
And it’s not just the conservatives labeling people to stir up drama. Back when I was in DC . . . I found myself at a backyard barbecue on Capitol Hill. . . I ended up talking to a guy who didn’t know many people at the party either. He turned out to be a Democratic political strategist. He makes commercials for senators and gubernatorial candidates, essentially attacking their opponents. You’d think he’d be an arrogant, biting guy but he wasn’t. He was thoughtful and tender and even a little sorry about what he did for a living. Certainly he believed there was good in it all, but the more we talked, the more I recognized a sense of conviction about the tactics he employed.
“My job is to scare the hell out of senior citizens in southern Florida and convince them their medical benefits are going to be taken away,” he said. “Is that true? I asked. “Not really,” he said with a bit of regret in his eyes. “But that’s not the worst part,” he continued. “The worst part is what we all do to each other. When a campaign gets to the national level, it gets ruthless. On both sides. You would think these candidates are big enough to take it, but nobody can take it. Every day on a television somewhere, you’re being lied about. Your character is being assassinated. People turn and walk away from you at the grocery store. They pull their kids close. I’ve seen very powerful men reduced to tears. I’ve seen it happen with my candidates, and I’m sorry to say I’ve done it to others.” . . . The most frightening thing he said to me was this: “You’d be surprised at how easy it is to convince the American people that a perfectly good man is a demon.” I’ll add this to the mix too: I believe God is a fan of people connecting and I think the enemy of God is a fan of people breaking off into paranoid tribes.
Please, let’s all be very humble, very prayerful and very wise as we vote this November 8