We’re Being Duped…by Ourselves

WARNING: The subject matter of this post is political in nature. However, the intent is to identify and acknowledge a possible problem that has exacerbated the present political and social divide in our country, post election.

I’m writing over the weekend after the American Presidential Election. What a crazy week!

For those following this blog, you already know that neither candidate impressed me. Instead of voting for a candidate, my wife Tami and I voted for a party platform that best supported our values and morays. Also, it would be an understatement to say that we were flabbergasted by the immediate returns on Tuesday night, much like the rest of the country.

What has followed has been completely and utterly ugly. There have been:

  • Protests
  • Riots
  • Incessant crying and whining by Millennials
  • Leveraging by employees on their companies to have excused absences from work because the President-elect won and that hurt them emotionally
  • A border watch (Canada) for celebrities who vowed to leave the country should the President-Elect win
  • Biased media choking on air, in disbelief over election results
  • Wailing and gnashing of teeth on both sides
  • The name calling on both sides of two entire voting bases of Americans
  • True stories of people treating one another poorly
  • Fabricated stories of people treating one another poorly
  • More humorous political attacks on voters via social media
  • More vicious political attacks on voters via social media
  • Just as many conspiracy theories as before the election via social media

Ah yes, social media. Facebook is an interesting example. I have a number of friends on this media platform that would be on the opposite side of my political spectrum. I like that because they are nice people and if I’m wise I can learn from their perspective.

And I have.

One of these friends very recently posted about a good number of instances where Trump followers were doing horrific things to followers of Clinton – whom my friend voted for. I didn’t see any of those things on my feed, but EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE…which reminded me of how social media can work.

For those of us on Facebook, we have friends who establish part of our “feed” content. But we also have an “independent” feed, separate from our friends that is based an an algorithm of our perceived likes and dislikes. Every time we click on a link, there is a digital note kept on the subject matter. What follows is our reception of special information to keep us interested in staying on this social platform, so that the owners can make more money off of advertising. This is a problem because we only see one perspective on things. It is also a problem because a good portion of this information is a collection of half-truth and outright nonsense to keep us engaged. Yes, that’s right – you heard it here first. Facebook is NOT a good source of news.

Okay, maybe not first…

Here’s the point. We get the “news” that we want, whether it is true or not. Further, a Trump supporter and a Clinton supporter likely receive radically opposite feeds. After 30 minutes on Facebook both sides of the political fence are thoroughly disgusted with the other and their “criminal acts,” further exacerbating the political divide in our country. Add to this an unbalanced mainstream media, we come to the realization that the fault is really that of American people like you and I. I submit that to a considerable respect we’ve faked ourselves out, duping ourselves into believing a flawed hyperbole of what is actually true about one another. And that is not only ugly, but uncommonly sad. Instead of dialogue too many of us have resorted to being controlled by our emotions as we check into another round of indoctrination by our media sources.

The Bible tells us to love one another and to make every effort to live in peace with everyone. That’s good advice for anybody. But it’s a difficult pill to swallow, even for the Christ follower who is caught up in this media web we’ve weaved, allowing our emotions to control us. However, regardless of who we are can we agree that we’ve all been called to something greater than this, something that leads us to peace instead of destroying one another?

Think of a time in your life when your emotions betrayed you, leading you to make a bad decision. How did you regain control of your emotions to right your life? In regard to social media, what is your purpose in using it? Can you handle what it does to you/us? How hard is it to not respond to subjects you know will lead you to a dark place? How shall we then live?

 

 

 

 

An American Privilege

vote-badges-politics-election-symbol-patriotism-18271660

The great American privilege of voting is tomorrow. We all agree this presidential race has been ugly, regardless of political perspective.

I’ve tried to come up with humor here, but every time that I write something down I’ve had to delete it as it speaks of one of the two candidates in a disparaging manner.

That’s right, why add another ugly voice to this mess?

The challenge is simple. Vote. Vote your conscience. Vote for a party platform if you need to because you can’t stomach either candidate. If you are given to it, or want to try something new, pray for direction and vote. Think about your children and grandchildren who will ask you in the future of whom you voted for a why. Have a good answer because you’ve worked it out.

Not voting reminds us of the old adage of not having the privilege of complaint when you don’t like the results. While ironic, I suggest you’ll be doing lots of complaining even if your candidate wins.

There has been talk about some Christians saying they will not vote as their choices seem to not be good choices at all, holding out for a form of fatalism that “God is in control anyway.” I for one agree that God is in control, regardless of who wins. And yet consider that each of us will be held accountable for our actions tomorrow. NOT VOTING for me is sin and nonsense fatalism. If we ran our entire lives under this premise, one would never get out of bed.

Okay, that last two sentences were a sermon. And no, I will not apologize.

My wife Tami and I voted via absentee ballots last week. We voted our conscience, marking for the candidate whose party platform we aligned best with. That’s right, we didn’t vote for a person but a party.

Vote.

 

A Road Less Traveled

This has been a crazy last week to highlight crazy months of campaigning for President of the United States. We may be looking forward to this chaos continuing through the coming inauguration.

One thing that is for certain, the American public has been learning about themselves during this season of culture shift and struggle. Among these lessons is the importance of having a good name.

The best way to protect your name is to carry yourself in the manner in which you want to be known. If you walk with honesty and integrity, no one will believe it if you are accused of lying. Further, if we are given to hyperbole and personal attack of others, we may end up with others fearing us, but not respecting us.

Huge difference…

It’s hard to get our “good name” back, but not impossible. Perhaps the most difficult aspect is the need to ask forgiveness of others for what we’ve done. We begrudge this action because we are admitting we are wrong. It rankles our pride. It challenges our small vestige of humility. But it does wonders to others around us whose respect and love are necessary for our personal serenity and worth. Secondly, backing up that apology with action changes everything.

Easy to post, hard to do. Unfortunately it’s the road less traveled.

When your name is mentioned among a group of people whom you often relate to, what comes to their mind? Is it good or bad? Is the answer to that question important to you? Whom in your life do you need to have the respect and love of? What is our “road less traveled?”

Proverbs 22:1

 

 

 

New Normal?

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The New “Normal”

This election season has created tumult and turmoil within our nation as well as politics beyond our borders. It is likely that we can agree that things have changed in our public discourse and whomever is elected will set a new tone that will create its own peril in sectors of our society.

This is the new “normal” right now.

Cultures shift, methods change and impermissible becomes permissible. These are constants in a society. Even the picture (above) demonstrates a new normal. The home on the right representative of hundreds that dot the North Dakota landscape; empty shells that once represented pioneer families and farms.

It is interesting that many of these homesteads still stand, as if tearing them down destroys a distant value, memory or “normal.”

I would like to offer the concept that our personal response to these changes as individuals is found in where we base our own truth.

Having done work in Central Africa, one thing stood out like a sore thumb. Some of the beliefs/doctrines/truths we have in America, don’t work in Africa. More on this in a later post.

If our truth doesn’t work everywhere, is is possible that perhaps it’s not really…true?

Okay, that was a little painful.

In business there are seasons of change. I’ve found working in the Bakken Oilfield that I can leave for a week of vacation, only to return and find that nuances in sales have changed – sometimes dramatically. Suddenly an oil company has made decisions about whom and how they will be serviced by oilfield vendors (one of which I work for). Word gets out quickly (funny how that works), and then you have a significant shift. Survival among vendors is dependent on shifting a culture, methods, or changing what was once something that they wouldn’t do, to something that will now become of the new “normal.”

Perhaps the easiest example of impermissible becoming permissible is in what is allowed in television related to content. Boundaries have been pushed and changed to what has become the new normal.

This is culture shift. How one adjusts to these shifts is up to you.

What will your truth allow to be your new “normal?”

Depending on your personal belief/doctrines/truths, does a shift make it right for you? If yes, we go with the flow. If no, how will you then live? What is the basis of your truth? Does your foundation of truth work everywhere, any place or anytime? What shifts in society are non-negotiables as per your foundation of truth?

 

 

 

 

AaaAUuuugggHHh!!?!

Warning: This is a political post, a topic which often leads this writer into a stage of depression…read at your own risk. This is an opinion piece.

On Sunday night, October ninth, in the year of our Lord twenty sixteen I watched a football game instead of participating in the American addiction that we call a presidential debate.

So my wife had to give me the high points. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember any…

So I went to the place that a significant portion of the American population gets their news to find out what happened. Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t exactly a good place to get the truth.

Then I tried the mainstream media. Funny (actually unfunny), it was almost as grossly biased and stilted as the famed social media site.

Here we go.

It matters not who won.

It matters not who lost.

What matters are our convictions in a time when the candidates who’ve survived the American political process seem unpalatable to a significant segment of the population.

Count me in on that one.

Some years ago while living in another state, I made a significant balloting mistake. I voted for a third party candidate who represented my values instead of one of the two major parties. What resulted was the third party candidate siphoning off the base of, in my opinion, “the lessor of two evils”

That’s right, I’ve been here before.

We ended up with a remarkably poor person in that very important position. Within eight months of that politician’s term, they had lost the support of their own party.

I’m not interested in doing that again.

The election this fall will be extremely important. With Supreme Court seats and the current culture war going on in our nation, this election cycle will affect an entire generation.

Pure and simple, at present I will not be voting for a candidate this November, but one of the two major parties and the platform that best represents my convictions.

If you find yourself in a similar position, I hope you will do the same.

Perhaps a point of common ground that a majority of Americans can agree on is that we need to pray for our nation. Lines have been drawn. Salvos are sailing back and forth with a substantial part of our country caught in the middle of the battle zone. I ask that we consider the possibility that we need some miracles to take place to heal our country. May we further consider that this political process has revealed we seem bereft of two things we’ve held dear among our populace; character and integrity.

Lord, help us.

What convictions do you have that are non-negotiables, beliefs that you’ve embraced because they are tried and true? What is the source of your convictions? What convictions do you have because others in your life have influenced you? Are your convictions absolutely true, or conveniently/relatively true? Why does truth matter? 

Tough decisions these days.

Psalm 33:12