One of my favorite things to do is to work out in the yard. This past week I found an old rusty trap for small critters buried under a pile of debris. I think it was left by the former owner. Is seems like a metaphor for this year of 2020. All the old traps are being pulled out from under the pile for well-meaning people to stumble into.
Almost every American would recognize “The Golden Rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It comes from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 7:12. No matter the religious belief people support, the golden rule is needed now more than ever.
With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a polarizing election just got more so. Something seems wrong when we have lost basic civility with how we communicate with each other. Many seem very quick to attribute the worst possible motives to those that they disagree with. Sadly, they are viewed as the enemy and someone who should be attacked. A skill we could all benefit from is having a civil conversation with those we disagree with and seeking to find some common ground.
Silicon Valley makes this harder. The tech giants of Silicon Valley represent the richest companies in the world. They are able to operate with very little overhead which results in the people at the top getting very rich. The user of free tech services need to understand the old adage “there is no free lunch”. The “product” that the tech giants are selling is the ability to influence 2.3 billion people. If you frequent tech services of any kind, the product they are selling is to influence you! The power they have is truly astounding.
For the frequent social media user, they must understand that Big Brother really is watching you. It is not the government, it is a super computer on the other side of the screen recording everything you do and then pulling you in for more time. This influence is sold to advertisers. The golden rule of the tech giants is they have the gold and so they rule. So many science fiction movies show the robots taking over. Through the tech giants, the computers already have.
They will feed you information to keep you engaged so that you stay longer so that tech companies make more money. This has the effect of making the world smaller for the 2.3 billion users. The users begin to believe that much of the world is exactly like them. They create their own truth based upon the info the giants feed them with the express purpose of keeping them engaged. For a percentage of the 2.3 billion this results in a culture of rage. They are emboldened by feeling that so many people agree with them. Tech has provided this illusion. Those who disagree are blasted.
Another trap seems to be "my way is the only one" concerning COVID. Many factors go into how people feel about COVID. Among these are: ones choice of sources of information, where people live and how prevalent the virus is, political preference, and, most notable, how has the virus impacted your family. My wife’s cousin died with the virus, so our family has felt it. Remember people have many different opinions about this virus and that is OK. I personally like the response of the Governor of South Dakota who did not shut down her state but declared she trusted the people to make good decisions.
Another difficult choice flows out of these racially charged times. A false choice is put before us. Do we support protestors or do we support police? Those who protest peacefully are exercising the right of freedom to assemble. As all Americans know, many American cities have burned through riots. The vast majority of Americans are totally against racism and are pro-police and pro-law-and-order. These Americans need to speak out and not be pushed into a false choice. A great question for all is, when did you last have people of different ethnicity to your home for dinner? All of us of all races can do better with this. Another important question is what are you doing to promote peace in our communities? The vast majority of police officers are good people who genuinely desire to protect and serve. Over 90% have never fired their weapon and see this as a last result.
So in this crazy time let’s remember basic civility. Let’s purpose to listen to each other. Let’s treat one another how we would want to be treated. What goes around comes around, so how you treat others will be returned to you.
With deep prayers for return to the golden rule,
Pastor Scott Harper