Friday, 29 March 2019

Challenging, without feeding

If I want cheap publicity all I need to do is say something outrageous, then others react and it feeds my influence. Of course I can get people to forward on [re-Tweet] my comments, or perhaps invite a machine to do so. Something like 60% of Trump's Tweets are forwarded on automatically by bots.

So how do we challenge lies, hate, confusion, unrealistic demands, and so on without feeding the frenzy and giving them more air? It's nothing new of course, many films have flourished by being banned. The difference is scale. The messages bombarding us everyday are staggering.

But we are a staggering number too, and the conversation out shopping + telephone call + chatting to a neighbour + text message + any number of times/ways we communicate add up to a considerable direct voice which doesn't feed falsehood.

There are times when a public opinion demands a public rebuff. A candidate for local elections claimed to be a Christian, while at the same time taking part in hate speech. Jesus Christ made it clear that everyone is of equal importance to God. Hating anyone is un-Christian, in fact Jesus told us to love our enemies!

For example, there were some who made a great show of their works of charity while a poor widow gave a penny. He said she'd given more of herself than they had. He spoke to religious and political leaders, but also to the marginalised: lepers, in many cases then women, thieves, bereaved, differently-abled. He loved sinners but hated sin.

He also told a story about a farmer who planted good seed, only for an evil neighbour to contaminate his field with weed seed. The two grew up together, and his workers asked if they should pull out the weeds. The farmer pointed out that in doing so they would pull out the good crop too; they should wait until harvest to sort things out. In others words, there are times we should concentrate on what is good without dissipating our energies on what drains us.

The Brexit saga might be more wholesome if there was focus on the good. Adversarial parliamentary debate is becoming tedious. It may be that we need a new way of making quality decisions. You and I are unlikely to be part of that debate, but we can sweeten community life here.

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