By Jonathan Faulkner
A long time ago, in high school and college I was a big fan of the TV show Bones. For those familiar with it one of the characters, Jack Hodgins is a Conspiracy Theorist who spends a great deal of his dialogue during the shows early years taking every opportunity to remind everyone at the Jefferson-Legal Lab that Big Brother is watching and how corrupt the Government is. At one point, during an especially tense episode Jack and his co-worker and soon to be lover have a bit of a dust up. “I guess I get so worried no one is listening, that if I just keep talking someone will care.” Angela’s response: “Yeah, you have to be careful that you don’t speak so loud that no one wants to hear you.”
I do not know why, but this scene has always stood out to me as profound, a unique moment in a show that should not have carried past six seasons (it lasted 11). The idea that we can become so loud in our protestations that no one wants to listen and shuts off our viewpoint because we have gone so far as to discredit ourselves. Contrast that with the person who, also a true believes in their cause, seeks to use education, research, logic and action to show the validity of their points. For example, if one believes in caring for others they will find the best avenue possible for caring for others. Russell Moore and Timothy Keller are examples of men, in the church, who have a good standing among secularist because they have chosen this second route. To engage culture and ask the questions culture is asking with the intention of seeking to being healing and reconciliation.
Today, we have largely ignored both options, choosing instead to go beyond the rantings of Dr. Jack Hodgins in Bones, to a the constantly critical and hateful rhetoric employed by Westboro Baptist Church, now adapted for the use both the Far-Left and the Far-Right. Both groups, being so out-of-touch with the reality before them they will use any means necessary to get across their point including, and not limited to comments about how “Deplorable” either side is and some pretty terrible comments targeting a 10 year who happens to be related to our President.
Of course, if you call both sides reactions to the other what it is, you are in danger of becoming the target of such hatred and vitriol as you have never experienced before. Both sides hate the other and as they continue to railroad each other they allow their hatred to further drive them apart. Relying on what are essentially false narratives to fuel their hate-laced tirades. Take note, I am not talking about one particular side, I am saying that both sides have done this; whether it was the hate filled tirades over President Obama that some spent 8 years making or the hate filled tirades against Trump that have only escalated. Hate has continued to breed hate, division has bred more division. No one who speaks of Tolerance, be it left or right, has any idea what it means to be tolerant. Those doctrines which we most completely claim to cherish are the first things we abandon when someone disagrees with us. Speeches about Equality give way to actions that continue to keep other viewpoints down in the name of said equality.
I am of the firmest of opinions that if we had laid down our picket signs and let go of our hatred after the Election was final we would have been much better off by now. Had we put the energy we have put into hatred and angry protest, we would have been able to heal divisions and at least be working towards reconciliation. Had we taken it upon ourselves to seek a peaceful and loving solution to these issues long ago we would already be living in a much better world then the one we live in now.
Please note, I am not saying there is anything wrong with anger or with having frustrations, but when you allow that anger to cause you to degrade any person, no matter how wrong they may be, you have done nothing to aid your cause. If you stoop to the level of the bully, you have not ceased the bullying, only created another bully.
I have said before, true and lasting change will not be achieved through the picket-lines. True and lasting change comes from an everyday desire and challenge to be better individuals so that we can be a better community. It starts with the Resolve to be first-and-foremost a peacemaker, to forgo hate in the interest of love and what is best for all.
Now, this is not a thing man can do of his own volition, it is impossible for us to even lay down our corrupt natures, given to hatred, without the work of the Holy Spirit. I know my non-Christian readers will disagree, but as a believer who holds to Trinitarian beliefs that is my stance. We cannot, and will not be able to conquer these issues on our own. Even the simple task of giving up the vice of hatred towards another is impossible because of our fallen state. We need the washing of regeneration, we need the renewal of the Holy Spirit. That only comes through the blood of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. We need the Holy God to come and make us Holy and Righteous people. Our own human efforts have continued to fail, we need the saving grace of Christ to flood our hearts.
Oh Friends, we have resorted to fighting fire with fire, hate has begotten hate, our dissenting viewpoints have become so loud that no one wants to listen. It is time to lay down those picket signs and step across dividing lines. Let us acknowledge our pain and brokenness and work through the work of peace and healing that comes through the Cross of Christ.
I love you all.
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry