Civility and Fairness

Its a God-driven movement!

Its an evil, anti-American movement!

I have heard and read both sentiments in regard to the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Change a few words around, and I heard similar things about the Tea Party movement.

Like most political movements, sincere, serious Christian friends of mine come down on different sides of the issue.  Anger and vitriol flow from both sides, along with lacks of civility and fairness.

Here’s what I think: There are Christians involved in the Tea Party movement.  There are Christians involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Perhaps that needs to be kept in mind by Christians on both sides.

Some Christians are conservatives.  Other Christians are liberals.  Whichever side you fall on, realize that neither side is a perfect philosophy.  Both of these political philosophies have serious theological and biblical flaws.  At the same time, both probably get a few things right.

Further, both sides are guilty of being unfair to the other side.  If a few people at a Tea Party rally say racist things, it does not make the Tea Party, as a whole, racist.  If some people at an Occupy Wall Street protest sound like they are just lazy and wanting a handout, it does not make the whole movement lazy and waiting for handouts.  It is easy to pick the worst people in a group and use their inclusion as an indictment on the whole group.  But that is just not fair.

Once again, and it is important to keep this in mind, both sides do it.  Which leads me to another point: it seems that both sides use the fact that both sides do it to excuse their own doing it.  I was listening to a conservative political radio host last week complaining about how liberals can get away with saying terribly offensive things.  He complained that when conservatives say such things the media calls them out, while ignoring liberals.  Then he started saying some rather mean and nasty things about liberals.  The logic was: well they do it and we don’t do it…but since they do it I guess we’ll do it too.

Liberals do the same thing.  They ignore offensive things liberals say and emphasize the offensive things conservatives say.  Then when called out for offensive things they said, they excuse it by saying conservatives started it.

Overall, it sounds kind of childish. “He started it!” “No, she it me first!

Speaking of the media, I often hear conservatives complain about the main-stream media’s liberal bias.  If you define main-stream media as entities such as CNN and MSNBC this is probably true.  But I also hear conservatives proudly trump Fox News’ consistent victory in ratings as proof that most Americans are conservative.  If a conservative station is the most popular, does not not make Fox News main-stream?

My point is, both sides have powerful media outlets on their side.  Fox News will jump on liberals and MSNBC and CNN will jump on conservatives.  The constant playing the victim card, as if the world is against one side, gets old.

The whole thing just tires me out.  This was a mostly negative post and I am not sure how to end it.  My hope is that we would learn to be civil and fair to one another.  As a Christian pastor working with college students, I want to help the students avoid getting sucked into this sort of tribal, us-vs-them mindset.  Jesus crossed the biggest of all aisles in the incarnation, showed what it means to love one’s enemies and demands that we do the same.  May we figure out how to do this as another crazy election cycle comes into full swing.

*I recognize the irony of presenting absolutely no examples of anything I have been saying.  It comes from my perception from reading Facebook posts of friends, listening to the radio, reading news on the internet and so on over the last few years.

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