Like many of you, my neighborhood is fairly active on
Nextdoor, a social media platform built around the region in which you live. Overly the last few weeks, 3 topics have dominated the conversation: lost pets, repair/service
recommendations, and arguments about masks. Pets and recommendations are always topics of conversation on the app, but these incessant arguments about masks are new.
What I have noticed is that there exists a group of
people that sincerely believe that all of this overblown, that we have gone overboard in our response to this virus and they are ready to get back to normal. There is another group of people who sincerely believe that being a good citizen right now means staying at home and wearing a mask if you have to go out in public. Here’s the thing,
different opinions about almost any issue are expected and okay. There are a lot of people in the world; we aren’t all going to agree. The problem arises when we don’t allow for disagreement and when we make assumptions about a person’s heart based on their opinion about a complex issue. And let’s be clear: the issue of how to reopen safely is extremely complex. It includes health opinions that not all doctors agree on, economic factors, designations of essential and non-essential businesses, etc…
As one article recently put it, it’s very nuanced. The problem arises when we make it simple. “He is going to a restaurant? He’s reckless and he doesn’t love his neighbor.” “She is not ready to go back to church? She is living in fear not in faith.” What if, instead, we thought of everyone in the best possible light. The restaurant patron is not uncaring, but rather wants to help local businesses that have been hurt by this disruption. The woman doing her very best to socially distance is not living in fear, but rather wants to do everything she can to make it easier on our healthcare workers who sacrificing daily as they care for the sick. This will require humility and compassion, and it will require putting aside political beliefs. Too often, these conversations turn political on what party leadership is saying. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that neither party is interested in promoting an agenda of love of neighbor.
So, let’s not take our cues from a political party or a news network. We look to Jesus. The church can take the lead here in compassionate, measured, nuanced discourse, but only if we grant the person we disagree with the
benefit of the doubt; only if we look at others in the best possible light. I want you to do that for me, and my Lord says, “do to others what you would have them do to you” — so I will try my best to do that for you.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone.
- Hebrews 12:14