Why We Absolutely Shouldn’t Get Into Fights (On Facebook)
I have been in only one fight of my life. Unfortunately not to help a damsel in distress.
I partied hard in college, often until I blacked out. Pretty much every weekend.
I’m not much a fighter. Beer may be a brawler (Proverbs 20:1), but I still didn’t get into fights. Until one Friday night. Or so I learned the next morning. I woke up with a massive bruise on my side and scrapes up and down my body, and I had no recollection of how they appeared. Later in the day I ventured to a bar (what else do you do with a piercing hangover headache?) and a group of vaguely familiar people were whispering to each other and pointing at me.
I drank my beers and began my exit when one guy from the suspicious group stopped me.
“You doing okay, buddy?” he asked.
“Um, yea, I suppose. Why?”
“Well, you know, because you got into a fight at our house last night.” He paused, looking deep into me. “Wait, you don’t remember me, do you?”
No. I didn’t.
“What?” I asked.
“Yea, man. It got pretty ugly so I took ya home. I mean, your place was just a couple blocks over,” he said.
I didn’t want to ask but I had to. “Why?” I said. “Why did we fight? What was it about?”
“Dude, you got into a fight with my roommate. It was over the Cubs and Cardinals.”
Ah, yes. The angry chubby guy in glasses. I didn’t like the looks of him, so if the Cubs and Cardinals came up things could have gone horribly wrong. I grew up in Central Illinois, equidistant between Chicago and St. Louis, so the town was split between these teams and in junior high as we waited for the bus we took sides and sparred. Unfortunately, Cardinals fans normally won.
That’s when something was born inside me that made me bull headed enough to get me into a fight.
And sadly, old habits die hard. Even to this day I cheer against the Cardinals nearly as hard as I root for the Cubs. It doesn’t matter if the Cardinals have a team full of guys who take in baby orphans and stand in front of bulldozers to save rain forests, I raise my arms in the air and scream for joy when their opposition throws the winning pitch.
I’m not alone. We live in a world that only sees black and white, or red and blue. It’s human nature, perhaps instilled in us from the playground or bus stop. It’s no matter, we still need to fight it. Because it’s killing us.
One of my favorite Facebook posts came during the 2012 presidential election. I invited everyone to write something nice about the candidate they weren’t voting for. I’m not normally one for stirring a hornet’s nest, but I had reached a place of utter frustration due to the blasts of hatred from both sides of the aisle.
In came a long list of responses. Few of them were any deeper than “I guess I like Romney’s hair,” but still. It felt like I made a mark. At least I got those people to consider it. This is vitally because though people are different from us and may get many things wrong, it would be naive for us to think they get everything wrong, and we will get ourselves into trouble if we plug our ears.
For example, sometimes my oldest dog, Pongo, runs up to me and starts barking. Of course I don’t care for this so at first I shush him. When he then barks some more I get angrier and louder. And then if he keeps barking more I then pick him up and put him on his back in a submissive position. It’s something I learned from the Dog Whisperer.
It’s wrong for him to bark at me since it’s annoying and disruptive. He is old enough to know better. Unfortunately, often I soon find a little surprise on the kitchen floor. Rude or not, he was trying to tell me he needed to go outside. And I wasn’t listening because I didn’t care for his method of informing me.
Meanwhile, as humans we live in a complex world, one much more so than what dogs face. Or so we think. Because so often all we want is for someone to hear us. And when no one does we have to crap on the carpet.
Overlooking Red And Blue
As Christians, we are called to look past the red and blue of politics (and baseball players), or at least control our tongues. We are always to dig deeper and seek understanding. It’s all throughout the Bible, especially in Proverbs. Here are a few examples:
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2)
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” (Proverbs 3:13-14)
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:27)
Unfortunately, all these verses seem to go out the window when Obama signs a bill or the flavor of the month conservative Christian story is flapping in the wind (Kim Davis, Indiana pizza parlor, Planned Parenthood). Too many of our brothers and sisters, liberal or conservative, grab a megaphone, or a keyboard and mouse, and the effect has the striking resemblance of a clanging cymbal.
This isn’t as much a matter of right and wrong as it is patience and peace. There are two sides to every story and Facebook posts are too often offensively one-sided. This is also dangerous because as another Proverb states: “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”
So in our gavel and gown age of Facebook judgment, let us reserve our judgments and bridle our tongues. Then we can avoid the shame of people pointing and whispering from across the room about our ridiculous, pointless fights.