Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Problem with Tragedy

I rarely post anything politically motivated, BUT today, I have to speak up......

In the past week, we have witnessed many lives lost at the hands of Islamic extremists.  Lives of different nationalities, races, cultures, backgrounds and religions.  There has been so much innocent death and loss in the matter of hours or days.  In some ways, our world has united - showing solidarity in the face of evil, showing a sense of courage and resolve in the face of fear - but in some ways, tragedy has only split us more.

What is it about tragedy that digs up our nastiness? Is it that we are scared and hurting? Or is it that we turn tragedy into our own little soapbox? The world is hurting and yet we are fighting each other more than we are fighting those that commit evil acts. Social media allows us to both unite together in the face of tragedy (Parisian pictures, articles on Beruit, offers of prayer and peace, etc) and at the same time, attack each other from the comfort of our couch by taking one statement, one view and assuming the worst in other's statements and beliefs and comments.

This is a problem that both sides are guilty of - liberals and conservatives - making tragedy into a catalyst for our own agenda, hurling attacks at anyone who has a differing view. How sad that we can't just mourn loss without creating sides.

In the matter of one short week, I have seen racist and derogatory comments against Muslims AND also witnessed the unfair accusation that those who are anti-ISIS are bigots who hate Muslims (news flash: being against one group does not make one against an entire religion.)  I have friends who have been more upset about possible backlash against the local Muslim community than they were about the victims of terrorism.

There has been a disproportionate focus on Paris while overlooking other atrocities - but, at the same time, there has  also been a plethora of self righteous attacks shaming people for mourning Paris (because they didn't properly mourn Beruit or other non-western attacks).  While we, as a society, need to be more aware of all lives that are being lost, why are we making others feel guilty for mourning Paris?

I have seen people who attack Christians CONSTANTLY for their beliefs suddenly play the "Christian" card and claim  that their perspective on immigration and refugee policy is Christlike and those who disagree are failing at their faith.  At the same time, Christians are attacking each other.  Those opposed to allowing refugees into America accuse those who sympathize with Syrian refugees and want to open our country's "gates" to them as overly emotional, wanting to make themselves feel good, etc.  Christians on the other side are calling out fellow believers who are worried about refugees coming to the states, claiming that they are ignoring Biblical principles on loving foreigners, etc.

And, probably the silliest thing I have seen is the Christmas story being compared to the refugee crisis.  The story was about Christ, it was not making a political statement.  Mary and Joseph were turned away from the inn (and directed to a stable) because there was no room for them in the inn (due to increased travel during the census) - not because they were unwanted refugees.  Goodness, there are enough applicable biblical principles without having to manipulate the advent story into a policy position.

Why the bickering? Can't someone be anti-ISIS AND anti Muslim discrimination? Can we not protect the rights of those who practice Islam while still mourning the victims? Can we discuss other tragedies that weren't as "hot" in the media without shaming people for mourning an iconic city (and one similar enough to our own "Western" cities that many Americans lost their sense of security?) Isn't there a way to highlight other atrocities without downplaying the Parisian tragedy? Does it have to be a competition? Yes Arab lives matter, but don't European lives matter too?  Can we have discussions about the Syrian refugee crisis without taking an all or nothing approach? Can we recognize that with the exception of a few truly racist hateful people, most of us (believers and unbelievers) mourn for these people and their circumstances - yet disagree with how to handle it? Can we not attack each other as too emotional and sympathetic - or too uncaring and scared- and realize that proper policy will require compassion AND pragmatic thinking?

And for goodness sake, for those who bash Christians year round on any and every political issue, please stop playing the "be a good Christian" card- because goodness knows, when Christians are "good Christians", you disagree with their positions. And, please, please please quit misrepresenting our advent story. There are plenty of refugee examples to use without making one up.

Essentially, let's stop making other people's tragedies about us, our own political agendas, our own self-righteous views.  Let's recognize that other caring concerned people have different views than us - and we may disagree with them and we may have to discuss and debate these important issues, but we don't have to attack.  Can we agree to not get our kicks off making ourselves feel "more righteous", "less bigoted", "more knowledgeable", "more practical", "less overly emotional", "more Christian" etc. than others? And can we agree to take a deep breath before attacking someone on social media? If we wouldn't say it aloud to a person's face, why will we say it in a public social forum?

There is a lot of evil in the world at the moment - let's not add to it. The terrorists obtain one more victory if we turn against each other too.

(This serves as a reminder to myself as well....)

"There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." - Proverbs 12:18

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know hos you ought to answer each person." - Colossians 4:6

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