Why? Arg. (A rant and ramble) – Love Anyway Blog

Almost 21 months of this. Fast approaching 2 years. All this time with all this shit.

ARG!

Trolls. So many f’ing trolls, on the internet and in real life and just everywhere. Like in inauguration day someone gave out licenses to be an assbutt to everyone all the time.

I must have missed the memo.

Don’t get me wrong. Trolls are the price we pay for a free and open Internet and the right of free speech. If you are going to post stuff online at some point you’re going to have to deal with someone that just wants to play with your head like a kitten with a ball of yarn. It is what it is.

But since the 2016 election it’s more than just playing around. There’s some seriously messed up thinking out there being presented as viable solutions to real life problems.

Racist, bigoted, misogynistic, dangerous, messed up, dude bro, gun-licking, goose-stepping thinking.

How did we get here?

It didn’t just happen. People don’t just become that way because someone was or was not elected. There is a subculture that has been festering, spreading, oozing like fungus and the election was just an excuse for it to come into the light.

And ‘they’ accuse ‘us’ of doing the same thing, claiming political correctness is a mental illness (when in reality it’s just respecting people for what they are), claiming ‘we’ want full-blown Marxism and free marijuana for 10-year-olds and other ridiculous claims.

And ‘they’ blame Obama for dividing us, when in  fact we’ve always been divided, only now it’s louder. Talking heads on TV, podcasts, Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags…

So very loud.

And the red ball caps and the white polo shirts and khaki pants and the chanting “blood and soil” and “lock her up” while carrying tiki torches…

And they say we’re “snowflakes” and “triggered” (mocking the very serious condition of being ‘triggered’ because of an experience that has given you PTSD or anxiety.)

And they say we’re going back to a time when things were ‘great’. But what they really mean is ‘great for rich white men’. Most of them not realizing that if/when we do reach that time again that they, too, will be left behind and subjugated by those with deep pockets full of large bills that they hand out to politicians for legislation that keeps those poorer subjugated.

All the while talking about civility while not showing any. 

I. Have had. Enough.

E. Nough.

I’m past political correctness, I no longer care about civility, I will not sit idly while the world my children will inherit burns and humanity is choked to death on our own fumes of division and hatred and out of control capitalism. 

Stop telling me “don’t stoop to their level” or to “love them into change”. They don’t care about love. Or logic. When did being a Nazi become an acceptable way to be an American? And when did punching them become taboo? Jesus called out the oppressors, he chased them from the temple with a whip. How can we do less because “kum by ya, by and by”? Are we to respect the oppressive powers or are we to help the least of these?

Quit hiding behind your stained glass and some misguided idea that the Bible means we let hatred and bigotry exist. We should be leading the way in overturning the institutions that push us all into the ground. 

Ok, rant over. Carry on.

Opinion: If you believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, you’re going to have a bad time

Let me start by saying that I love the Bible. I’ve read it many times, in many English versions. Over the past 10 years or so (since I am disabled with chronic pain and am basically bed-ridden most days) I have taken on the task of learning Greek and Hebrew and studying the manuscripts we have available that are used to make up our modern-day Bible. (The contents of the manuscripts and detailed digital photos of them are available online. A google will get you to the right places.)

And I believe the Bible as we have it today CONTAINS the word of God. But not every word, phrase, and idiom in it IS the word of God. I believe that ultimately it was written by hands of men, copied by the hands of men, translated by the hands of men. And anytime men are involved, there are problems. Translation errors, contradictions, variations in the manuscripts we have discovered… in spite of what some teachers want you to believe, these are very real issues in producing English translations.

To make matters worse, we have the publishers who are currently producing Bibles. The NIV, the NASB, ESV, and most other English versions on the shelves at your local Christian bookstore are produced not exclusively by scholars, but also by the publishers, who then own the copyright of the translation. The NIV, for example, was produced by Zondervan, a huge publisher in the Christian book industry. They own the NIV. They selected, hired, and guided the translators. The translation committee included salespeople who guided the translation of certain passages because they wanted to have Bibles they can sell.

This process is true of nearly every version on the shelf. With the glaring exception of the KJV which is in the public domain (and even then doesn’t much resemble the KJV in 17th century English when it was first produced), every version on the shelf is owned by a publisher that wants to make money. And as such, the publisher has, at times, made the version fit the beliefs of the people they want to buy them rather than strictly translate the passage in context and in light of the historical context of the author.

Now, in all fairness and transparency, my evidence for this is purely subjective. All I have is my experience as a manager of a local Christian bookstore for a company that recently completely shut down, went out of business (Family Christian Stores). I have no documents to show you because they don’t exist and the inter-company emails were closely guarded and I am sure they have disappeared with the computer servers they ‘lived’ on. So this is my story. But I encourage you to do your own study of translation methods and the publishing companies who produce English translations.

One example:

Zondervan had produced a new study Bible based on the NIV, the Archeological Study Bible. You can still get them, a  leather-bound copy is about $100.00 on Amazon. I have one that I got as an award for selling them in my store. And while I have not read through every single note in it, the non-Biblical contents are very interesting, if a little far-fetched in some places (such as claiming to know where Noah’s Ark currently is).

That contest is what I want to talk about. Since it was made by Zondervan, who produced and owned the copyright on NIV translation, the NIV was the only version out could get the Archeological Study Bible in. (That may have changed, I don’t know, but at the time, when it was first introduced, that’s what it was.)

Our job at the store level was to sell. We had a quota, it would be part of my performance review whether I met that quota. But then there was the contest. If you met the quota your store was automatically entered into the Zondervan contest. The award was a genuine (rather than the cheaper bonded) leather-bound copy of the Archeological Study Bible (ASB) engraved in gold with your name. It was a contest for managers so while my sales associates were expected to sell them, their sales went to the store total and the award was only for managers.

And I didn’t have an issue with that. That’s how retail works. You sell things. As a manager, you’re expected to sell what the home office tells you. And we did. We did our jobs. We did it well. You might call me out for bragging, but I was good at managing my store. Our sales increased every month that I was the manager, I was often the top manager in my district. I loved my job.

So, at the time, I didn’t think much of the scripts Zondervan gave us to sell the ASB.

Scripts. Like we were actors in a play. “If the patron says XYZ, respond with ABC”.

The demographic for the ASB was teachers and ‘serious Bible students’. Preachers, pastors,  priests, and ministers were the ones we were encouraged to ‘push’ the sale on. But then, like now, the abundance of Bible purchasers were very conservative evangelical Christians. And preachers, pastors, priests, and ministers of very conservative evangelical churches are very set in their ways. Typically, they aren’t looking for a new study Bible, they want to replace the one that they’ve always had, that they’ve always taught from, and are not interested in making a change.

But we were expected to sell to them. It was DEMANDED that we sell to them. So we did. We read the scripts and we did our job.

Here’s one typical transaction, as scripted by the salespeople at Zondervan (I can’t promise this is 100% accurate as it is from memory):

*customer looking at Bibles*
Me (or one of my staff): Good afternoon (say customers name if you know it), it’s a great day! Are you looking for a Bible for yourself or someone else?
Customer may say: I’m the pastor at XYZ church, my old (study Bible name) is wearing out, I need a new one.
(While normally at this point you would ask what version or translation they are looking for, you must not bring that up at this time.)
Salesperson: Have you seen this new study Bible that just came out? It’s really awesome! (Take an ASB off the shelf, the best leather-bound copy you have on hand if possible, open it to page 247 and place the open Bible in the customer’s hands, you may have to be a little aggressive to get them to take it from you)

Note: Yes the script said, “be aggressive”. And whichever page it was – I don’t remember – was a very beautiful page with full-color photographs showing some clay tablets or something that purportedly were the oldest written versions of the Ten Commandments ever found. I don’t know if that truly what they were, I never investigated the accuracy of the claims the ASB made.

Salesperson: This is just one really amazing example of what this has to offer. This is concrete PROOF of the events in the Bible! These tablets could have been held by someone that made the Exodus out of Egypt!

(Judge the customer’s response. If you showed proper enthusiasm they should respond in kind.)

I think you can see where this is going, so I won’t bore you with the rest of the script, but the interesting part came when they finally asked the big question. And to Zondervan, who owned the copyright on the NIV, it was the most important question. They didn’t want my customers to purchase a KJV, or an ESV, they wanted customers to buy the NIV. They wanted to make money.

And almost without fail the customers would ask this Big Question: “Is this available in a (KJV/NASB/ESV, etc. etc.)”

And rather than say something like “unfortunately no” or “it’s published by Zondervan, they make the NIV” we were expected to steer away from the question, avoid it. Don’t get drawn into the discussion of which translation is ‘better’ or ‘best’.

Examples of things we were told to say were: “This is newly produced by the best translation methods” (even though the NIV was more than 30 years old at this point and had not been updated in a long time.) of  “If you flip to page 798 you can see how the Bible was made before we had modern methods!”

And of course, whenever you’re talking about sales, your boss or their boss will always use the time-honored phrase “always be closing”.

“If you get this today, we can put your name on it right now!” “Let me ring this up for you so you can get home with it and dig into all this good stuff!”

In other words, as soon as possible, get them to the cash register.

And it worked. People who I know had previously shown disdain of the NIV because their church was KJV-only or some other reason, were taking home an ASB.

Zondervan’s sales tactics worked. And they made money. I made money for my store. I earned the award, beating out many other store managers.

To Zondervan, it was never about accuracy or authenticity, it was about sales. I don’t remember a single bit of correspondence from Zondervan that was about anything other than us making money.

But I have more examples. Many. I won’t bore you with every single one, but there is one that changed me, changed the way I looked at the Bible and set me on my current path.

My store was literally a stone’s throw away from the northeastern border of the Navajo reservation in northwestern New Mexico. I was told (but never really investigated) that my store was the ONLY store that was available to the First Nation people in the area. A great honor and a great responsibility. They’re easily ordered online now, but at the time I was told we were the only “Brick and Mortar” place to get them.

I don’t honestly remember who produced them. I actually got to meet some of the people who did the translating, very sincere, honest men. They honestly wanted to produce a good translation. But like the NIV and every other translation, someone has to hold the copyright and make leather bound versions that look and feel nice with the gold edging and thumb tabs.

And just like the Zondervan sales, we were given a script to sell them.

But in this case, some things in the script were outright lies.

This brings us back to the Big Question. What version is it?

The true honest answer was it was the Navajo version. It was its own translation made from Greek and Hebrew sources. A new translation.

But people wanted to know, was it based on the KJV or the NIV or something else?

And there was a script for that.

“Judge the customer’s question. If you get the feeling the are KJV-only, tell them the Navajo was translated from the English of the KJV. If you feel they are open to the more modern versions, tell them the translation was made by the same scholars as the NIV. If they seem hostile to any non-native sources, assure them that it was made by local people and Navajo people.”

Again, I don’t remember the script exactly, but it was a lot like that. The problem with the script, everything, every single thing in it, is a lie.

We were openly encouraged to lie to Native American people just to sell Bibles. People who may be honestly seeking truth in a language they speak natively, we lied to them.

Even the last part. While it was made by local people, none of them were Navajo people. They were white men. Honest, sincere white men seeking to make a good translation, but white men nonetheless.

That crushed me. Bible producers only want to make money. With the exception of a few public domain versions that have been produced recently, all translations are made to make money. Not to spread the truth, to make money. Even the Navajo Bible.

And that brings me to my main point:

If you believe the Bible you can buy on the shelf of your local Wal-Mart is 100% inerrant and 100% the Word of God, you’re going to have a bad time.

Because when a company’s motive is to make money, usually for the stockholders who don’t actually work for the company, that is where their heart will be. Not in producing the best English translation, but in making the best English translation they can sell in a leather-bound edition for about $100. If a translation is produced by a committee that has a salesperson in it, the salesperson is going to have the final say, plain and simple.

And in spite of the best intentions of the scholars and linguists and historians on that committee, their work will still have to be something the salesperson can sell.

And I guarantee that every single translation, every single one that some company holds the copyright for, there is at least one passage and probably several, that is purposely mistranslated to fit the beliefs of the target buyers rather than being an honest, true translation into English. Every. Single. English. Bible. On every shelf in every retail location.

Worse, every Bible, in spite of claiming to be a new translation includes and continues to propagate words that were invented by the translator of the King James Bible. The most obvious example

being

the word “baptize”. It’s an invented word. Completely made up for the KJV. The word in Greek is “βαπτίζω” (baptizō). The KJV didn’t even really translate it. It’s “transliterated”. That means they just took the word and made it an English word rather than translate its meaning. There’s a lot of discussion as to what baptizo means, whether it means to dip or to purify or whatever. I’m not going to rehash that whole discussion here (maybe another time) but imagine what all our churches would be like if the translator had decided to translate rather than transliterate the word. What if he had chosen to use baptizo as it is meant in a pickle recipe from about 200 BC written by a fellow named Nicander. In the recipe the vegetable is to be baptizo in boiling water, then baptizo into jars of vinegar.

In that context, it means to dip. Submerge. Immerse. Completely cover. What if the KJV translator had translated baptizo as ‘immerse’?

How many denominational splits and long books and essays wouldn’t even exist today because the translator had simply said ‘immerse’ instead of ‘baptize’.

But look in the Bible you use now. Matthew 3:6 is an easy enough example. Does it say “baptized” or does it use another word?

Almost every English Bible contains the word “baptized” in Matthew 3:6, no matter the version. A completely made up word first used in the KJV. (And maybe in other, earlier, English translations, I’m a bit rusty on my history there.)

That’s just one example of how the KJV has become the basis for all English translations.

And a perfect example of how publishers influence translations to make books that will sell. No English version produced for sale today uses a real translation of baptizo. They just keep using ‘baptism’. Why? Because if they suddenly started saying the word is properly translated as ‘immerse’ (for example) then how many sales would they lose? Only people who attend churches that practice immersion baptism would buy them. They would lose half or more of their target buyers. No one from the United Methodist church, the Catholic church, Lutherans… it’s a long list. None of them would buy a Bible that would dare translate the word to mean ‘immerse’.

It is all about sales.

It is all about money.

Once more for those in the back

IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY.

So which Bible version in English can we trust?

None. Not one. At least not 100%.

The Bible, as it exists in English is not inerrant. And it is NOT the word of God.

It is a work of men.

I don’t know about other languages. I know Spanish has the same translation issues (because we sold the Spanish versions of the NIV, ESV, NASB, etc) And I mentioned Navajo. But Chinese, Korean, I don’t know. That’s something I have yet to investigate.

So which Bible version can we trust? Can we trust any of them?

The short answer is – no. Not really. The long answer is, you have homework to do.

My experiences working in Christian retail set me on the path to figuring out the truth for myself. To work out my salvation with fear and trembling.

But I am fortunate (well, not really, but in this case…) in that I have a lot of free time and Internet access. Not everyone, and maybe even only a tiny few non-scholars, has the time I do to put into figuring out what the Bible (as it exists in the best ancient manuscripts we have today) really says. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do any homework at all.

I encourage you, along with your Bible reading, to do some other reading. And it may be uncomfortable, but I highly encourage you to seek out and read books from authors you KNOW you’ll disagree with. See it from the other side, even if, in the end, you still disagree.

My suggestions:

Start here:

The World’s Greatest Book: The Story of How the Bible Came to Be
by Lawrence H. SchiffmanPh.D., Jerry Pattengale

It will give you some background on manuscripts and translation.

Then:

The Challenge of Bible Translation: Communicating God’s Word to the World
Edited By: Glen G. Scorgie, Mark L. Strauss, Steven M. Voth

This series of essays will get you deeper into the translation process. (Yes, it’s produced by Zondervan, who I have problems with as a company and as such this book does not speak unkindly of the NIV, even though it should. In my opinion.)

And finally (as a suggestion, definitely should not be the end of your study):

And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning
Dr. Joel M. Hoffman

This one is really…. well, it’s out there. Out on the fringe. As such you’ll want to take it with many many grains of salt, but as I said, look into books and authors outside your comfort zone.

After that, there are many blogs and articles and many many other things you can look into. Google will be your friend. And Amazon (or whichever bookseller you prefer.)

Read. Study. Dig. Even if it’s just a little. Figure out what the Bible really says. For yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Patriotism, Jingoism, Theology and Love

TRUMP WILL START THE END OF THE WORLD, CLAIM EVANGELICALS WHO SUPPORT HIM

– Newsweek, January 12, 2018

 

“If you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t care about the end of the world, you’ll be in Heaven. Let Trump drop the bomb, I don’t care.” – paraphrased from several conversations I’ve had (and maybe you have too) on social media over the past year.

“Trump’s eventually going to have enough and then do the right thing and just use the nukes. And it’s about time too.” – paraphrased from several other conversations I’ve had (and maybe you have too) on social media over the past year.

 

Trump supporters (some of them, anyway) seem obsessed with the idea of ‘The End’ and nuclear war and they see it as A GOOD THING.

To be blunt, what the fuck is wrong with these people?

They claim to be Patriotic Americans, they claim to follow Jesus, they claim to love their neighbor. But they are also ready to nuke the crap out of people and kill millions and bring about the end times to Jesus will come.

And these are people in the front row of the so-called Christian Right. Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Falwell, Jr. and many others have expressed this type of thinking since Trump was elected President. They’re ready for Jesus to come and they’re OK with nuking the world to make it happen. (Or at least war, some other nonsense they see as fulfilling Biblical Prophecy.)

In their opinion, Jesus is OK with killing and harming millions, if not billions, in the name of God, so it clears the way for Him to return.

To be even more blunt, what the actual fuck is wrong with these people?

(Side note, if you don’t like my choice of words, I apologize, but I also direct you to my blog post “I Love Jesus But I Cuss A Little“.)

How can you claim to follow Jesus, but at the same time want America to nuke everyone, causing untold destruction, pain, misery, and death? What sort of theology leads you to the belief that the United States can and should start a war for the purpose of bringing back Jesus?

There’s a lot to unpack, Biblicly. (The issue is obviously greater than just theology, but that’s where these folks claim to be coming from, so that’s how I’ll answer them.)

The verse that gets thrown at me most often as justification for war is Luke 22:36:

 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” (NIV)

“See?” they might say to me, “Jesus wasn’t anti-war! He told them to get a sword!”

And there’s this verse in Matthew:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword (10:34 ESV)

“See?” they might say to me, “Jesus is all about conflict and fighting and division! That’s what He wants here!”

And they point to the Revelation of John and its (supposed) description of Jesus:

Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (19:15 NIV)

“See?” they might say to me, “Jesus is about to slay millions with is sword and rule with his scepter!”

And of course, there are a lot of verses in the Old Testament that talk about war and God commanding the Israelites to slaughter all the people and Psalms and Proverbs about enemies being struck down and so on…

Is this the Jesus that really was? Or just the one they have made up to justify what these earthly men want?

Even if you are a Biblical literalist, who sees the Bible as literal and/or infallible, you have to be raising your eyebrows at any interpretation that leads to Trump dropping The Bomb on anyone.

How can Christians be in support of death and pain and destruction?

What did Jesus say in his own words? If we claim to follow Jesus, shouldn’t that be the highest authority, even above the rest of the Bible? If we’re Christians, shouldn’t we follow Christ and not Moses or David or Solomon or Paul?

Also, when we’re looking at Jesus words, shouldn’t we take ALL his words, in context rather than just picking verses that support our position (like those above?)

If we follow Jesus, shouldn’t we follow everything He taught and not just the parts we like?

Now, obviously, a study of the Gospels (the first 4 books of the New Testament containing all the quotes from Jesus) is a huge undertaking. Many have devoted their entire lives to it and have written volumes and volumes on the subject. I can’t hope to possibly write a summary here that could sum up everything Jesus said, did, and taught. It’s beyond the scope of this blog.

But what I can do is give you a place to start for you to look for yourself and reach your own conclusion, which, in my opinion, is what God really wants from all of us. He wants us to take an honest look at what He has said and done and decide for ourselves.

And since we’re talking about Jesus, that is where I want you to start. The New Testament, the first 4 books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Read them. In any order, doesn’t matter, since they all 4 talk about the same events from the point of view of 4 different authors. They overlap. All together they are kind of a long read in one sitting, but it can be done in an afternoon you want, but I’d suggest taking some time and not just blow through them.

While you’re reading or when you’re done consider these questions:

What idea or concept did Jesus talk about and practice the most?

What did Jesus say about our enemies?

What opinion do you have about Jesus? Is he someone you’d like to be with or is he someone you think is just angry all the time?

When Jesus speaks, do you think He means for his lessons to be applied to everyone, no matter who they are or what position they hold in work or government? Or can some people ignore Him for the “greater good”?

 

I’m not going to tell you what to think about Jesus. I want you to figure it out. From my writing above and elsewhere you have probably figured out my opinion of the idea “Jesus is OK with war”. But I want you to tell me what you have figured out out Jesus opinion on the topic.

Comment below or on the page on Facebook! I want to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

Op-ed: Netflix, Dear White People, and the "Let's All Be Offended About Something We Haven't Seen" bandwagon

Today’s outrage: A new show coming to Netflix called “Dear White People”.

This new show, that expands on Justin Simien’s 2014 movie of the same name, has not been released to Netflix yet, with a due date of April 28.

I did not see the original movie. Judging by the IMDB page, not many people did, it only grossed $4 million – a tiny sum for movies these days. The synopsis of the movie is “the lives of 4 African-American students at an Ivy League college”. The synopsis for the show expands it a little more, saying “At a predominantly white Ivy League college, a diverse group of students navigate various forms of racial and other types of discrimination.”

But what has people upset, upset to the point they are unsubscribing from Netflix, is the trailer that dropped yesterday. You can watch it below:

 

 

The trailer is…. interesting, to be sure. But those boycotting Netflix are saying it’s “reverse racism” and “promotes white genocide” and a long list of other ridiculous claims. Personally, I don’t see how they are getting any of that from this very brief trailer.

Now I’m not saying people aren’t allowed to be fans of the things they want to be fans of, or unsubscribe from the thing they want to boycott. Likewise, Netflix is allowed to produce or purchase whatever they want.

My issue with this particular situation is this:

If you’re boycotting Netflix over this show, are you really doing it for the right reasons? Or are you just doing it because someone told you to be mad about it, because someone else is doing it, or are you really, honestly angry that this show will exist and you’re no happy about the themes in it?

The Band Wagon effect. I hate it. I think it shows the very worst of what mankind can and will do.

This clip is literally 30 seconds long. It shows a bunch of disjointed clips from the show, most less than a second long. The voice is that of one character, probably taken from one scene in one episode. And because of that people are quitting the entire Netflix network. I’m sure there are a few people that saw the original movie and are probably upset that Netflix has made a show out of it, but I promise you that the vast majority of people deleting their Netflix accounts are doing it because of something they saw on facebook or twitter and not actually any first-hand experience.

The same goes for the whole Ivanka Trump/Nordstrom thing. People are writing #BoycottNordstrom because someone (ahem) told them to be offended that they weren’t carrying Ivanka Trump’s clothing line anymore. They didn’t ask Nordstrom WHY they weren’t carrying the line, whether it was a business decision to distance themselves from the White House, or whether it was a financial decision because the line wasn’t selling well, or the supplier wanted more money and made the line less profitable….. No, they just jumped on the social media bandwagon to boycott Nordstrom. A good percentage of them probably haven’t shopped there in the first place.

As I said before, you, me, and everyone else, are free to like and dislike the things we do. And we’re free to spend our money, or not spend it, on the things we want. If you want to boycott Netflix or Nordstrom or any other place, don’t let me stop you. But just ask yourself:

Why am I doing this? Is this something I am really upset about or am I just acting upset because someone told me to?

I don’t have any idea whether Dear White People will be any good. The trailer looks interesting and is certainly controversial in its presentation, but most good art is controversial. And I’m not going to tell you to watch it or not. But before you boycott Netflix, make sure you’re doing it for your own reasons and not someone else’s.

 

And that’s good advice in general. With anything and everything, make sure you’re doing it for your own reasons and not someone else’s.

Why is everyone so stupid?

It was a rough weekend, this third weekend of September 2016. Bombs, a suspect in custody, an innocent man gunned down for having his vehicle broken down. Politicians of all stations flapping their lips about refugees and terrorism and supporting law enforcement. All the talking head channels want us to think that everything they say is the most important ever.

And the stories trickle down to social media. And the rest of us talk about it. And boy do we talk. And boy do we love to claim that anyone that has a different opinion than us is stupid.

We love to say things like:
If you really believe that…..

….I’ve got a bridge to sell you….
….you’re as bright as a burned out light bulb…..
….dumber than a box of rocks……
….etc…..

Or maybe we’re less aggressive and instead use phrases like “I’m sorry you were triggered because I have a different opinion”. Or some other no-less rude phrase.

All because they disagree. Obviously, we’re smart because our opinion is the best, and everyone else is dumb.

When honestly, we’re all stupid. Few of us see the whole picture, or even try to, and all we really want to do is be right.

I have a picture of the world. An ideal picture of the world based on my experiences, things I’ve read, my religious and political beliefs, and an imagined vision of what the world could be. Based on that ideal picture, I have opinions on things. Stories in the news, things people say, shows on TV… my opinions are mine. Some change easily, like what my favorite movie is, others change less easily, like my political party affiliation.

My opinions are mine, so I believe they are right. Obviously, or I’d change them. And I will defend my opinions because I think they’re right. If I’m writing an essay like this, or giving a speech that’s easy. I state my case and I answer questions.

But social media is different. I can state my opinion in 140 characters or less, then pretty much abuse anyone that comments that they think differently.

I witnessed an exchange from a community member that went like this:

Magzine posts a link about refugees and terrorism.
Community member states the fact that in the case of the bombs in NY and NJ, the suspect was a nationalized American that came to the country when he was 7.
Troll states he was Muslim, that all terrorists are Muslims and therefore all Muslims are terrorist. It’s a ‘pattern’.
Community member states that a religion is not a pattern.
Troll digs in and passive-aggressively apologizes for ‘triggering’ but all Muslims are obviously terrorists.
And from there….
you’re stupid
you’re racist
you don’t know what you’re talking about
you’re an idiot if you think that

And so on.

We’ve all done it. We all will do it. We all will continue to do it.

Why?

Because we can. Because social media gives us the platform to be anonymous and terrible. Because our boundaries are ours to protect. And no matter how hard we try, at some point, someone is going to cross a boundary that we consider sacred. And that person is an idiot.

And then “love thy neighbor” and all the other rules we try to live by go right out the window. Because we can’t face the person we’re talking to, we can’t sit down with them and actually talk. So we whip out a sentence or two at a time, pretending we’re ‘debating’ when we’re really just wanting to win.

We’re all stupid.

Me included.

And I hate to say it, even ashamed to say it, but I must admit…..

I love it.

I LOVE it. I love feeling that I made a ‘zinger’ or that I hammered on someone to the point they started ignoring me, or the coup de gras: when I have made them so angry they block me.

Then I won.

I LOVE IT.

So help me, it’s rude, it’s wrong, it’s very un-Christ-like, but I love it.

It’s an addiction.

And I’m hooked.

I think a lot of us are.

And that, right there, is the real problem with discussions on social media. We’re addicted to winning. We are right, and we will be right and when we prove we’re right, either through our opponents’ admission or through getting them to quit, we win.

So let me offer a better way, for you and for me, than winning.

When I was in high school, there was a debate team. We had debate competitions. When we went to these events we didn’t get to choose the topic or the side we were on. For example, we’d go and the judges would have three envelopes. In one was the topic “women in the military” (this was the 80s), in another was “global warming” (yes, we talked about it back then), and in the last was “should Reagan run for re-election”. The judges would pick one at random. Then they’d flip a coin. The “heads” team would argue ‘for’ and the tails team would argue ‘against’. We’d have a heads up before the competition what the topics might be, but we’d have to be prepared to argue either side – no matter what our personal belief might be. You have to remember that this was in the days before the Internet. We had to prepare by doing the research before the event. And once the coin was flipped we had to a couple of minutes to prepare, but that was all. And yes, our goal was to ‘win’ but not necessarily be proving our point, but by being the better debate team.

To simplify, we had to win by knowing the topic better than the other team.

We had to KNOW the topic, both sides, better than the OTHER SIDE.

And social media makes it too easy to no know.  It makes it too easy to assume the other side doesn’t know either and just go in guns blazing.

We need to stop that. We need to not jump into the discussion and INSTEAD stop, research, and know.

Even if you never end up responding, it is far better to KNOW. Even if you don’t agree with the other side, you NEED TO KNOW IT. Then, and only then, can you truly understand the issue and know, truly know if you are on the right “side”.

So here’s the challenge. The next time you feel compelled to respond because someone is wrong, stop, count to 10, then read something about the issue. Steer away from opinions and blogs and focus on finding out as much truth about the issue as you can. Take 10, 15 minutes and find as many fact-based links as possible. Then read as many as you can before you respond.

I know, that takes all the fun out it.

But you might learn something.