We like to think of western culture as somehow enlightened, but how enlightened are a people who dehumanize those with whom they conflict?
We like to think of ourselves as people of reason, but how intellectual is it to shout down those with whom we disagree or dislike?
There have been many examples of this from every political persuasion or social view, but perhaps the most publicly blatant (besides the current President disavowing every detractor as “fake news”) tends to be in the world of FOX News and conservative talk radio. Two popular personalities, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, will talk over those with whom they disagree in order to distract from the reasoning behind the conflicting argument. If the detractor persists, they simply disconnect the call or end the video interview.
What follows should be the most disturbing aspect to an enlightened society: Both sides claim vindication based on the behavior of the other. Forget about facts… The person who disconnected the call claims it was disconnected because of the falsities of the other party, while the other party claims it was due to his argument being truthful.
This regressed, unevolved, unintelligent, and nearly animalistic reasoning has become so commonplace that it’s visible in regular interactions between people engaging on social media platforms. Social Media “crusaders” claim their post was deleted due to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another person having a bias against the truth they just posted (never mind the fact that many of these people are simply sitting at home playing video games or watching TV all day, having little or no societal impact).
It’s common to see one party dehumanize, or tear down, a person without giving it a second thought, as long as there is an internet between them and the object of their vitriol. Rather than seeing each other as people, we begin to see each other with the label of an issue, political party, or some other perceived transgression.
We’ve developed such complex systems as the internet and social media, but many of us have not been able to develop/evolve intellectually to incorporate the simple process of thinking outside ourselves and into the perspective of another.
Recently, Senator John McCain passed away. The man who was demonized by the media in 2008, and more recently by President Trump, was suddenly an iconic and independent leader who rose above partisan politics. The media/President had no qualms about devaluing McCain while he was living… but after he dies… the tone changes. I’ve written before about this tendency to deify the deceased, but that’s not what struck me about the reactions I was witnessing. What disturbed me was the realization that this mindset of diminishing others has crept into every aspect of our society.
It should go without saying, those who seek to follow Christ can’t really take part in or support this type of behavior. Scripture gives direct guidance on how we are to treat those with whom we disagree… and it’s not to belittle or devalue them. It’s to strive to live at peace with them.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” -Romans 12:18