There are a lot of takeaways from the decision reached on Friday and, more importantly, the response/reaction... For me, the biggest thing I'm taking is jeez, there are some jerks out there and those jerks are loud. The temptation to allow the jerks to control the dialogue in this country is massive and I'm gonna try to stop falling into it. I'm gonna try to stop reacting to the jerks, I'm gonna try to stop being hurt by the jerks, and, maybe most importantly, I'm gonna start assuming that the majority of people who I interact with aren't the jerks.
On Friday, after the decision was announced by The Supreme Court of the United States of America, I was surprised by my own reaction. I knew this decision was coming. It wasn't ever something I have chosen to campaign heavily against in word or in deed. Yet, even with that, I found myself feeling a little afraid for my children. I wrote THIS BLOG, which was guest blogged at MAMA NEEDS COFFEE. For the most part, people read it and enjoyed it. It led to some interesting virtual discussion. People of opposing views discussing rationally whether fear is something people who hold the traditional view of marriage need to be feeling after this culture-shifting decision. I enjoyed that conversation.
But, then again, there were the jerks.
Like the person who commented on my blog that "Catholics are Bigots".
Or my family member who I love (I really do) who's comment I had to delete after he stated that "Catholics should be more concerned about $#%#4 #$%#$ @#$@ priests" (basically a terribly way to describe clergy abuse).
...to be fair, he apologized for phrasing it that way.
Or, my personal favorite, the person who stated that she will pray for my children, surely I would reject them if they ever came out as gay, being that I am a pearl-clutching Christian! (can you please, for a moment, imagine a world in which I would be wearing pearls and clutching them?).
Oh, and there are the jerks on the other side too.
Christians, sometimes Catholics, who spoke about this decision with such hatred.
Christians, sometimes Catholics, who don't understand you don't change people's minds with anger, pride, the righteousness of the pharisees.
Christians, sometimes Catholics, who have decided it is apparently much better to preach to the choir from their pedestal of moral authority, than to try to understand where the majority of this country is at when it comes to marriage.
Man, the jerks are annoying, and waaaaaaaaaay too often we have allowed them to set the tone for this conversation. The jerks who speak for the Church of Fox News or MSNBC, allowing for division to become dangerous in this country. And social media? Well, social media just ignites it all! Perfectly reasonable, kind people (IRL) forget to consider their social media circles and how their memes/quotes/musings might come across to those who feel differently.
And I get it. Talking about stuff like this is hard. Because it's personal. It takes finesse, thoughtfully choosing words, careful examination of opposing opinions, and slow, rational discussion to set foundations of agreement from which to explore different ideas. Social media doesn't allow for that most of the time. So, we are instead careless, we speak in sound-bytes, we change our profile pictures to the rainbow or to the vatican flag in order show where we stand and who's side we are on.
Meanwhile, the world just gets grosser and dialogue becomes limited. Majority opinion isn't challenged and those of us who might have something different to offer are silenced.
It's just, I keep thinking it doesn't have to be this way.
I wrote my blog on Friday to describe some fear I have as a Roman Catholic in today's culture raising my children to embrace the traditional understanding of marriage. I wrote it completely understanding that the SCOTUS decision was a day of celebration for many in my social media circles. And because of the blog, I have been able to have some good conversations and dialogue with people who feel differently than me.
Because of the blog some people were able to say. "Geez, you don't have to worry"! But then I described how this decision is different because it regards a protected class of citizens and it's silly to think it won't be tricky to figure out how to hold on to Catholic identity in Catholic institutions (schools, hospitals, social agencies) when the law of the land is different than the law of the church. I was able to explain, thoughtfully, that I have friends working hard to see the rights of LGBTQ people recognized even further, who have said to me, "Marriage was already in the bag, we have our eyes on other things, like hospitals right now".
Hopefully some of this will be a bit easier to come together on (like advocacy for the best medical care for the LGBTQ community) but man, judging from how we are letting the jerks own this conversation, I'm not sure.
So I propose the following 5 point system for moving forward in social media discussion on things that are tricky with a wide range of people who don't have any sense of common understanding when it comes to faith and morals.
*that was an awesome sentence and I should be congratulated for it*
(assuming it was grammatically correct).
Don't assume people are jerks.
I really do believe, most of us are trying to do the right thing by our family, friends, and our God. Remember that.
When people are jerks, respond in love
Maxwell, the man who wrote 'Catholics are bigots' on my blog, probably hasn't been treated very nice by some Catholics in the past. So it was important that I apologized for that. When people are irrationally angry, it's usually because they have been hurt. An apology is always a good response to that hurt.
Stick up for people being put down by jerks
If you are a Christian and you see another Christian write something inaccurate or hurtful, gently call them out (privately) remind them that we are to be witnesses of love. always.
Perhaps the coolest thing the last couple days, for me, was when one of my friends, who is gay, was able to 'stand up' for me after a critique of who I am as a person. Her words meant more than my words ever would, and it mattered that she took the time to write them. (shout out to Hailey!).
Stop preaching to the choir because it makes you look like a jerk
Think about what you are posting and why. I have had to work on this a LOT in the last couple years. Am I posting something so that those who already agree with me shake their heads vehemently in agreement, even if that means I alienate someone who might feel differently than me? Gosh, if we could all just STOP playing the game of "social media sensationalism" (I know, I know, I have a long way to go on this too) wouldn't we be able to have better conversations about very real things?
Don't forget, it is about LOVE WINNING
If we want love to win, we must love. The good love, the steadfast love, the love that goes way beyond warm fuzzy emotions, but instead ends up being about a crucified Christ, willing to empty his whole self in order to show the world just how far he was willing to go to reach the sheep who had wandered off.
LETS STOP BEING JERKS AND LETTING THE JERKS MANIPULATE US INTO BAD BEHAVIOR.