I would like to announce that the Global Village is under attack from within. The chief participants in this assault are the Pathologically Narcissistic, the Morbidly Voyeuristic, and of course, the Idiopathic Opinionated. You may think of them as the Army, the Arms Dealers, and the Press, respectively.
‘Pathological’ because there’s a little bit of each in every person. It’s actually healthy to think well of yourself, to be curious about others, and to live according to your beliefs, like, and dislikes in order to establish a safe living environment. If I don’t want the word ‘pathological’, perhaps I mean ‘morbid’ in its medical sense—it’s unhealthy, and ‘idiopathic’ is easy to explain—of unknown origin.
In the last month or so, there have been numerous revelations that have driven the public into at least two camps. I will not discuss (and I’ve purposely left it late to bring up) either of my two examples: the Jenner transgender announcement, and the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marital unions. Jenner’s announcement had to do with gender identity, while the SCOTUS decision was about civil rights, due process, etc. Neither of these were about sex, but the public seemed to make that association almost immediately; sex is exciting and ‘dirty’, and a short step to perversion, something we deplore and can’t hear enough about. The stage is set for inflammatory commentary.
Those in support heralded the announcement and the court decision as breaking the chains of oppression and prejudice; the world, the nation, the society are emerging into a new age of enlightenment. They revelled in the freedom to love whom they, or others, wished to love, and in whatever manner (although neither was never an issue).
Those against said the world is coming to an end and God hates us.
Each point of view triggered a chain of events. One actress was so enthusiastic about the SCOTUS decision, she posted so many ‘yippees’ on social network pages (first link)—that her public began to complain (second link). This generated responses (third link) from other followers defending the actress and her passion, and by the tenth link, they weren’t discussing SCOTUS or the actress any more, they were publicly abusing each other online.
Those opposed did much the same. In chatrooms I read about the world coming to an end, the country is going down the tubes, the approbation of perversion, and God being disappointed. There was lively debate for a while, but eventually it too degenerated into a denominational and personal slanging match, with prior generations being blamed for setting the stage for this disaster. Scriptural supports for varying points of view were cited, and a lot of opinions were offered as gospel. (As with many sources, with judicious selection and editing, the Bible can be made to support anything you like.)
A year ago I was peripherally involved with a military PTSD online support group, and the same thing happened. A discussion about ISIS, or the government’s failure to support veterans invariably turned into free publicity for ISIS (in the form of protest against ISIS), and undermined support for the military and the country generally, with nasty commentary on previous commentators.
In whatever camp you find yourself, and regardless of the Cause you’re supporting, it isn’t long before the chain of events is hardly related to the anchor point—the announcement or the decision—at all. With each new link, animosity and insistence grow, until one has the impression of a massive, online bar fight. We’ve all been in arguments that start with, ‘get your spoon out of my soup’, and before long, with a chorus of ‘and another thing!’ closely resemble high school rumbles.
Losing sight of the original intention, being heedless of the difference between opinion and information, and often, being unblemished by actual fact, we find ourselves boiling over about (as happened in these examples) something which affects very few of us directly. Angry views push perspective out the window.
If we are all the fine things we believe we are, if we are ‘wise’ enough to have opinions, we are wise enough to handle this much better. We might also save ourselves a great deal of bother if we were to stop indulging the Narcissistic and the Voyeuristic.
Do you know what the Bible says?
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Paul TN Chapman
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