Sunday, September 05, 2010

It's soapbox time again...

"Someone who addresses their views with an amount of passion is said to be
standing on their soapbox. In public places like London's Hyde Park individuals can advocate one cause or another. Some speakers in these public forums will bring a 'soapbox' to project their voice and to be seen by those who might cluster around.
If you would get off your soapbox for a minute, you'd hear what I have to say."

In 1989 I purchased my first personal computer (my first computer was actually an old CPM) in the form of an IBM 386 from Sears. It served me well publishing a prolife newsletter until I decided that I wanted to try the internet. It wouldn't work, so I upgraded to a newer IBM 486, and subsequently signed up for Prodigy with my 1200 baud dial-up modem. It was on Prodigy that I learned how to stand on my soap box without carrying it around with me. The prolife issue was probably the one issue nearest and dearest to my heart, and I spoke out often. Eventually, I carried that over to the World Wide Web, debated on numerous newsgroups and bulletin boards (especially Yahoo's boards.) I could probably debate with the best. I wasn't easily offended, and I always attempted to be civil. As abhorrent as I find abortion itself to be, I do realize that at least some people have their reasons for supporting it's legality. After a time I stopped going to the boards as I just grew tired of the name-calling, mischaracterization and general disregard for others (and sometimes for logic.) It could be exhausting at times.

Words are certainly an important thing. And I would never suggest that one not
choose their words carefully. Nor is it likely that anyone will ever find me saying that terminology is irrelevant. Many years talking about the prolife issue have most certainly convinced me of that. On the other hand, sometimes semantics are just that - semantics.

Just to define the terms here, this is how Merriam Webster defines semantics:
"3b : the language used (as in advertising or political propaganda) to achieve a
desired effect on an audience especially through the use of words with novel or dual
meanings." In my lifetime, it seems semantics is also the language one must not use as it relates to social change (as in propaganda for a cause - good or bad.)

For a time it was "politically incorrect" to call someone a postman, or a woman Mrs.
Perhaps, Mrs. is still out of favor with many. There was political pressure applied.
Terms for people of different racial/cultural backgrounds changed and what was once acceptable became perjorative. In all the changes, I didn't necessarily see hearts changed. The terms changed, the issues and problems remained. It's not that some things did not change over time, but there seems to be a huge disconnection between the two. So recently I got in trouble with someone over just such an issue. And because I stated my opinion polititely (but publicly) about the efficacy of their approach. Since I expressed an opinion about a particular method, it somehow made me a traitor against the whole cause. Nothing was (or is) further from the truth.

But this is not something new. I am the sort of person that speaks my mind when
motivated to do so. I try hard not to just agree with people I love and respect just to keep the peace, but I am not normally looking for a fight, either. It is my feeling that if we are friends, then our friendship will be enhanced by our differences and strengthened by honesty. I never intend to be brutal. I attempt to be civil and hope others can be the same. I also strive to find areas we CAN agree on. For instance, I may not think that most abortions should be legal, but I have had friends that think they should be available on demand: we can usually agree that women in difficult pregnancy situations need supportiveness even if we still disagree on I on how it would be carried out.

I have never been one to subscribe to political correctness on any side of an issue. I do tend to lean towards a more conservative viewpoint, and often wish both those with a more liberal political bent and those who are conservative leanings could exercise more charity - especially with those who disagree with them.

People who are "conservative" are not stupid, uninformed, misinformed, uncaring,
against charity, or bigoted, at least not any more than people who are "liberal." People on the other side of more conservative views (e.g. liberals) are not stupid, uninformed, misinformed, or unpatriotic loons. Certainly in any population of any size one can find examples of people who exhibit those traits, but in general, it has not been my experience.

Yet, I have had friends that post regularly on facebook and other places that explicitly or implicitly suggest that conservatives are just what I described, and I also know conservatives that have delved into name-calling as well. I am not resentful of it particularly, but I cannot say that it doesn't hurt sometimes, because sometimes it does. And it usually leaves a lasting impression - it just may not be the impression that was hoped for.

And when I think that people who sometimes straddle opposite sides of the political
fence are brothers and sisters in Christ, it saddens me. There is one way to salvation, and it has nothing to do with anything other than one's relationship to Christ.

So, this is what Christ has said:

John 13:35 (New International Version)
"35. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Romans 12:10 (New International Version)
"10. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

So my challenge is this:
Do really read what people have to say, and if they disagree with you "agree to
disagree" respectfully. Do find out what they care about as you probably have more in common than you think. Do work towards common goals. Do treat the other person
with the respect you would want to be treated, and Do more to love. Loving others is
a choice and a committment. On the flip side: Don't take disagreeing on an issue as a personal affront. Most likely it isn't. And resist the urge to do anything but love unconditionally.

This is my soap box for the day, but before I stand completely down I want to say this: Intelligent, caring people can disagree. They can even disagree greatly.
Disagreeing with someone, even publicly, is not hateful nor the definition of hatred.
If I had a nickel for everytime disagreement as been interpreted as hating, I'd have a small fortune. I love my children. I don't always agree with them. I love my husband, but sometimes we don't see things eye to eye. I can disagree with you and love you. For Christians it should be the norm.

God's blessings,

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