Fences

Pick up any magazine, from Time to Redbook, and you will be confronted with the comingling of politics, lifestyle, and morality. It is even more true when you click on your internet “news” source or social media. Or, remember these, a newspaper?! Stories that could have been about politics get wrapped around lifestyle and marinate in morality. Try an issue – gun control, abortion, climate change, or homosexuality – and there is a political component to the issue. But, in our increasingly personalized culture, and as organized religion is diminished in its influence, a person’s political position often becomes a molding framework for their lives; a self-identifier. There is, also, an element of morality, a “right” and a “wrong” position. Take the present conflagration regarding climate change. President Trump has just decided the United States is pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords. That is a political decision. But, immediately there were denunciations from those who style themselves as green that the decision to reverse the U.S. government’s position on Paris is driven by science deniers and, as such, is wrong and is to be opposed by all right thinking people. Unless one conforms to the orthodoxy that the earth’s days are severely numbered due to global warming caused by man, then that person is wrong, not entitled to share his thoughts, and is to be figuratively but socially stoned for his heresy. And, this is not always a Left to Right process. Consider, if you will, the Pro-Life movement, and then follow that same process. The process of politicization, life-stylization, and moralization works both ways.

Please do not label me to be a science denier (not completely, anyway). I do not deny that it appears the earth is warming, and we see extreme weather phenomenon on a more frequent basis. How many Floods-of-the-Century have we been subject to in just the past decade? And, I am always mildly surprised when the annual prediction that “this will be the most active hurricane season on record” due to climate change does not pan out. I get that the globe is warmer. But, climatic time is long and very slow, and should not be measured in tiny increments of decades. Is it wrong of me and am I to be labeled a science denier if I am skeptical that man is its one and only cause Is it morally repugnant that I believe our God has enduringly crafted Creation to be resilient to change? I think not.

What we need to learn, both on the right and the left, is some discretion. It used to be accepted that polite conversation did not involve politics or morality. Today, assaulted by cable TV talking head shouting matches, ugly Facebook postings, and 140 character rants, there seems to be no escaping the process outlined above. Today, to be informed is to be opinionated. And to be opinionated is to be deemed right, to the exclusion of any other possibilities. While we have a right to our opinion and a right to express it, we are not always right to do so. It seems to me that we need to re-establish some boundaries of civility. We need to build some fences around our personal feelings regarding social and political issues, with appropriate gates in the fence to allow suitable exchange of ideas. We need to determine which of our positions take on the role of conviction, and are to be defended when someone comes over the fence to attack them. We should always remember the words of Paul, written in Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” When possible, deal with others in a peaceful, respectful manner. As many have said, no souls are won to Christ by winning an argument.

It has also, often, been said that good fences make for good neighbors. In this electronic age, where everyone can be our virtual neighbor, good fences have never been more necessary.

~ Hudd ~

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