The Battleground

I read a lovely e-mail forwarded to me this morning, brandishing words like “hypocritical”, “outrageous”, and “transgressor” aimed at the original author’s target. Why is it that these types of e-mails upset me so? Why don’t I just dismiss them and delete them? Why do I spend my time thinking over the message, crafting an e-mail response to the forwarder, someone who didn’t even write the original commentary?

Let me tell you.

We as a nation, we as a planet, seem more and more divided into camps. In many parts of the world, people are bombing each other literally, blowing the designated “other” into oblivion, as they have for centuries. In other parts, people are bombarding each other with words, made more efficient now with the ease of the internet and e-mail. The damage isn’t physical in the web posts and e-mail, but the words are still expressions of anger, declaring “this way is right” and “that way is wrong”, aimed at drumming up support for “the right way” or attacking “the wrong way.”

I’m not in the military, but in solidarity with many who are, I can do my bit to try to make the world a better place, with my battleground starting my e-mail inbox and this blog. I can hold the ground against intolerance and us vs. them, and engage in a conversation.

I’m not in the clergy, but in keeping with the Christian view “there is that of God in everyone”, I can respond to the angry e-mail, looking for the common ground — even when finding that ground is difficult.

I’m not in politics, but I can point to democracy as a system that allows for competing views, and changes in the dominant view over time. I can use my First Amendment rights to work for a more hopeful world view, with more collaboration, and less antagonism.

There was a time in my life when I could just shake my head, turn off the news, and focus on my own world. But not now. Maybe not anymore. The world comes to me in my inbox. And I must engage with that world, if I am to have any credible sense of optimism.

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