Checking the news isn’t really something that I do anymore. Last week when there was all this smoky haze, I figured someone’s burn pile a few miles down the road got a little larger than they had hoped. It wasn’t until later that Barb told me that there were fires through Kansas. Who knew? It wasn’t on Facebook, or if it was, I didn’t bother to click on it to read more. I just did what I always do: if it doesn’t interest me, I just scroll on. No harm, no foul.
And increasingly, that’s how most of us do news. We point and click and read the things that we want to read. If it doesn’t pop up right in front of us, we’d never know it happened. It’s true of Facebook, and other social media, as well as online sources. We click on what we want and ignore the rest. Even traditional print newspapers, which are on the decline, are writing articles that appeal more to readership rather than trying to cover the broad spectrum of news. They get that we read what we want to read, and the rest we let go. If something doesn’t catch our interest, we aren’t going to take the time, and we definitely aren’t going to pay money, to read it.
My hunch is the way some of us do news, is also the way that many of us are beginning to live our lives. We pick the things we want and ignore the rest. The people we like, who have the views we like, become our friends. The rest, we scroll on by or we tell to hit the road. On Facebook, at least half a dozen times, I’ve seen comments like,” …, and if you don’t like what I’VE GOT TO SAY, UNFRIEND ME!” Or, “That’s so dumb, and defriend …” I wonder if this is the way we are starting to live real life.
The people whose views we don’t like, we defriend, or ignore, or just let go. And for the internet, this totally works. There are a few too many rants that I have experienced from friends and family that I have even moved them off my newsfeed. No one needs that kind of negativity, and then they’re gone. Boom, just like that. The struggle for us is that when we begin to defriend folks we don’t agree with, on the internet and in life, we lose out on what otherwise could help us learn, grow, and understand. We may not agree with them, but are there ways that we can come to see where they are coming.
Now, I get that there are folks who purposefully try to tick you off. Fine, ignore them. There are also those who drag drama, family or otherwise, through your newsfeed. Let that go too. But when we ignore everyone who differs from us or disagrees with us, we lose out on any opportunity to learn, grow, and understand. And more so we lose out on the possibility of loving our neighbor, even as we disagree with them.
In the gospel of John (and this week’s Sunday text), Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Does this count for people who are outside those whom we agree and get along? Does this count for people who are different from us, or raised in different areas or circumstances then us?
Earlier today, I ran across a news article on Black Lives Matter. Not the first place I’d go on the internet. It has little to do (or does it?) with where I live in Southeast Nebraska. Many of you may disagree with where Black Lives Matter is coming from, and you may not even know a Black person. Maybe you’ve heard of Black Lives Matter from another source – but have you ever wondered what Black Lives Matter sees themselves as all about? Why not check them out… because maybe there is something that is going there that we just don’t get.
Jesus in John’s gospel calls us to love one another — People on our feeds and our lives that we agree with and can relate to, and those that we have a hard time getting to understand because they have experienced the world differently.
So maybe give it a go. Read a little about where Black Lives Matter sees itself, or try to empathize with those folks on your newsfeed and your life that hold different views than you. Because according to Jesus, we don’t have to agree with them, but we are to love them.
See you Sunday!