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Gracious Words in a Social Media Age

November 3rd! It’s a date we’ve been hearing about, if not anticipating, for the better part of 2020. Today, millions of Americans will head to the polls to add their vote to the millions of votes that were already cast by mail. And sometime over the next day or two, we can anticipate the results for what may be the most divisive election in modern history. If you’re unsure of just how divisive it is, give yourself 10-15 minutes on any social media platform and you will have a better sense of it. News articles, videos, blog posts, tweets, memes...whatever you are searching for in support of your candidate, or against the opposing candidate, you can quickly find. And the volume is overwhelming and never ending. Hundreds of new options appear each day, all in an effort to drown out the ‘other side’. So where does this leave us? Probably saying something like ‘I just can’t wait for it all to be over,’ or ‘I’m so sick of this.’ Sadly, this is where much of this divisive rhetoric has driven us. Instead of some sense of anticipation about the leadership of our great country, we are looking forward to the relief that November 4th may offer us. But is it really the political principles at play that we are ‘sick of’? Is it that we have stopped caring about important political matters? I suspect not. I think it has much more to do with the harsh words, the cutting remarks, the name calling, the character defamation, and the degrading rhetoric that characterizes this political season. From the top of the ballot, to the bottom of the ballot, every candidate and/or proposition has an opponent who has very likely spent unspeakable amounts of money to add their voice to the party. And once again, we find ourselves as exhausted consumers.

So what can we do? Maybe you’ve heard the expression that you eat an elephant one bite at a time. That’s the task in front of us, as we think about trying to change the negative and harsh rhetoric that scrolls across our social media accounts. What will your ‘bite’ of this elephant do? Not much in and of itself. But, if I commit to doing the same, and my family members commit to doing the same, we soon begin to realize that we are in fact taking a large bite out of this ‘elephant’. And what is it that we are committing to? It’s a commitment to not add to the divisive conversation. In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul, who had himself experienced extreme character defamation (see Acts 24), encourages us this way, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). So we should ask this question...what is the occasion? Well specific to today, the occasion is an election in which emotions are supercharged, opinions are rampant, and fear is prominent. What an awesome opportunity to contribute gracious words to the conversation. The next time you open that favorite social media app, consider your words. Are they gracious? If so, put it out there. Let’s change the narrative. Let’s eat this elephant one post at a time!

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