I Do Know You

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This post opens softly and as with a strange movie, please stick around for the plot twist… It is true that social media often gives us a false feeling of knowing everything about someone, especially when we jump to hurtful conclusions. Most of the time, it is because we see truth in the words or pictures of our friends and family, uncomfortable truths which prick at our own certainty. We recognize our doubt as treason toward whatever we believe and that doubt often manifests as derision toward others.
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(PS: but if more people at least t-r-i-e-d to use social media like I do, as an outlet for who I am and for expressive purposes instead of innocuous links and memes, we might indeed know who people are. Social media is a wondrous creation, if used creatively.)
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I’ve written about this topic at least a dozen times, because it seems to come back from the dead in new and queasy ways. John Pavlovitz runs across the same things I have, albeit from a different perspective as a progressive Christian pastor. (He recently reminded us about the “Iceberg Perspective” of human interaction.)
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If you are a liberal whose idea of rightness is the ability to change one’s mind, a skeptic with the default position of ‘we should examine this closer,’ or simply someone with the idea that the best or most pragmatic idea gets the most attention, you probably think about these things more than most people.
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For many, they recoil at the idea that we can live in a secular society, one that embraces multiple religions and expressions of faith, as long as none seek dominance, hurt people, or limit others free expression. Some don’t want to hear that their friends believe health care is a right, one which of course should be provided by society as a whole without regard to such subjective concepts as ‘laziness’ or ‘worthiness.’ That prophets such as Jesus were revolutionary precisely because the ‘other guy’ was placed foremost in our priorities, without qualification. For most major religions, there are no pre-qualifications for compassion. Being was sufficient. “Pure meritocracies are for asses,” to coin a new phrase.
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There are so many smart and compassionate people in our world, all with both great ideas and horrendous ones. (Someone thought putting fish on pizza was a great concept, so we can’t always trust even the geniuses running around loose among us.) We can’t judge people too harshly for sometimes believing that aliens kidnap us, that carbon emissions don’t impact our environment, or even when they go crazy and insist that either Bush was a good president; sometimes, they have stupendous and uplifting ideas, too.
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But…
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But, if you post that you hate all members of a particular religion, just ‘know’ that gays and lesbians choose their ‘lifestyle,’ or refuse to listen to any contrary – or new – information and reasoning about life, politics or religion, then I do know you.
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If you say the “N-word” out of hate or even passive superiority (even in quiet moments behind closed doors), don’t want women to be pastors, priests or clergy, think war is often the answer, won’t consider that birth control is often good for humanity, or want your brand of religion to be the only one with a voice, I do know you.
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If you look the to the imperfect past as a roadmap instead of a cautionary guidebook, revere our all-too-human ancestors who thought killing people because of color, religion or manifest destiny was the only answer and wish desperately to return to whatever your version of the good old days might be, I do know you.
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If you think people are lazier, dumber or worse than they ever been, or that the world isn’t improving in multiple ways – and your outlook above life and everything in it reflects that strange belief, then I do know you.
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If you look to the future and see dark shadows instead of the chance at greatness for all of us, I do know you.
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You are the collective ‘us,’ and we can all learn to be ‘the other.’
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But it is uncomfortable to recognize that we are often telling people who we are, incrementally, minute by minute, word by word. As I’m doing now, hopefully while not breaking too many toes.
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It is this revelation and sharing that makes the word ‘alive’ bristle with promise and expectation. Thanks

 

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