Our nation has just wrapped up a tumultuous and long political season, culminating with the inauguration of a new President last Friday. For me, it’s been a positive thing, since the candidate I preferred won the election and has now officially moved into governing. I burned too much time Friday watching television coverage of the peaceful transfer of power and since then have found myself checking in on the news more than I regularly do to see all the “firsts” our new President is having. I must not be alone. People on both sides of the aisle are also watching the news and reacting on social media with all sorts of opinions. There have been plenty of catchy memes circulating; I’ve even “liked” and “reposted” a few myself. With the things others have posted that I disagree with – I’ve been inclined to weigh in sharing my thoughts on that as well.
But in the long term, what good does all this do? Does what I post really change anyone’s mind? And, how do my posts come across to those who don’t know me? Am I encouraging others by what I’m saying, or am I forming bad impressions for those who disagree? These are challenging questions. And, if you’re like me, you’ve resolved many times before that when it comes to posting on Facebook or Twitter that you’re going to do better than you have in the past. Then, before you know it, someone offers an opinion or shares a meme, and off you go. I had this happen to me just one week ago. Early on Monday morning I told myself that I was going to begin again in trying to be positive in my public posts. I wrote last week’s blog post and published it. I left the office by lunch time feeling good and feeling accomplished. It was a warm day (by Ohio standards for January) and I decided to go out and get some exercise on my bike. Ten miles in, I stopped for some water and checked my phone. There it was. Someone posted something that caught my attention. They made several sweeping generalizations that raised my blood pressure. And, I responded in frustration. I think I made it a complete 5 hours before I violated my own resolution. Later that night I scolded myself a little for not making it any longer than I did.
So here we are with a brand new work week. This week, I’m making a somewhat different resolution and I hope you’ll help me by holding me accountable. For the next few weeks, I’m going to take a hiatus from posting any comments or “liking” things that have to do with politics on social media. There are three reasons why:
First, I want to see how it improves my disposition. Taking in too much negativity will affect you. It generates cynicism. It causes you to see the worst in people, rather than the best. It can affect your health. I want to be a happy person who is pleasant to be around. We can do this when we choose to focus on our blessed relationship with Jesus, rather than entangling ourself in the cares of this world.
Second, I want to be known as a peacemaker, rather than a hardened political hack. Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not warmongers, Matthew 10.13. As sons and daughters of God we have been called to work for wholeness and harmony rather than strife and discord. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all, Romans 12.18.
Lastly, I want to be a faithful steward of my time. The Psalmist said, So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90.12. We must live in light of eternity. Time is precious. There are some days that I wish I could have back because of all the time I’ve wasted trying to change someone’s opinion on something one of us has posted on Facebook. What if those energies had been placed somewhere else? One of the greatest dangers of unplanned time is that it seems to allow us to drift toward our weaknesses, rather than our strength.
How long do you think I’ll make it with my self-imposed hiatus? I know it will be difficult, but I know it will be worth the sacrifice.
Want to take the challenge with me? Let me know. If you do, I’d like to see how it changes your disposition on life.