We are beyond the boiling point right now in America. We are seething. We are furious. We are terrified. We are shocked. And we are at one another’s throats, becoming more and more radicalized by the day.
Are there any voices of wisdom among us? Any cooler heads seeking to defuse the conflict? And if they are out there, are we listening? Or, instead, is it the harshest voices, the shrillest voices, the angriest voices that we listen to?
Most of us realize that both the radical left and the radical right are dangerous.
It was the radical left that set our cities on fire last year and yelled “CHOP” (as in guillotine) in our streets.
And it was the radical right that stormed the Capitol last week and brought gasps of disbelief from leaders around the world.
Yet rather than being revulsed by these deadly extremes, many of us are joining their ranks – if not in action, then in spirit.
I was shocked by the outcry I received after interviewing Prof. James Beverley on the deception of QAnon – and much of it came from Bible-believing, Jesus-praising Christians. Yet they had bought into the QAnon narrative as if it were gospel truth. How dare I question Q!
In his book The QAnon Deception:Everything You Need to Know about the World's Most Dangerous Conspiracy Theory, Prof. Beverley documented some of the ridiculous claims of “Joe M.,” a leading Q teacher (his Parler account is @StormIsUponUs), which included these:
- On October 8, 2020 he claimed that Nancy Pelosi was talking about assassinating Donald Trump.
- On October 13, 2020 Joe M contended that Biden “participated in a plot to have Seal Team Six murdered.”
- On October 23, 2020 Joe M stated that Biden had his wife and child murdered. His two sons, Hunter and Beau were injured. This means he tried to kill Hunter also. No wonder the kid ratted out his dad.
The one-star reviews bashing his book only demonstrate the degree to which people have taken leave of reality. Yet there are many who fit in this category.
For them, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are not just staunch, ideological and political opponents. They are living embodiments of Satan himself, barely human at that.
On the flip side, attorney Lin Wood posted this on his Parler account on (@linwood) a few days ago, receiving lots of support and affirmation (I cannot access it now but have a copy of his words):
“Good afternoon!!! I am hearing rumors that Pence & leaders of coup are planning to arrest & execute President Trump & his followers.
“Typical move by Communist tyrants.
“They will never do it as 80M+ Patriots would react & it would not end well for the Commies.
“But just in case they try, I have my escape pod gassed up & ready! “https://video.parler.com/xk/Fn/xkFnkgK7w4LL_small.mp4”
Is it any surprise, then, that “Hang Pence” was trending on Twitter before it was removed? This is madness.
Back on the left, things have now gotten so extreme with the Internet giants that even the ACLU is concerned over the lifelong banning of Trump, speaking of Twitter and Facebook’s “unchecked power.”
No wonder that some major players, including Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, and Greg Gutfeld have reportedly stopped using Twitter, with Gutfeld saying this in his last tweet:
okay, this IS my last tweet:
CNN tries to get FNC banned.
Apple targets Parler.
Publishers dump writers.
music labels drop artists.
twitter bans/removes thousands.
tech companies join hands.
this redefines who the true rebels are.
if you like the purge, you're the servant.
Then there is the sickening hypocrisy of the leftist media when it comes to its 24-7 coverage of “the Insurrection,” with story after story and video after video reminding us of the horror of the event. And it truly was horrible and must receive our attention.
But this is the same media that (literally) turned its head the other way as BLM-Antifa mobs wreaked their havoc, either downplaying or denying the violence and anarchy. In some cases, the media even justified it. (And yes, as I’ve acknowledged that there is hypocrisy in the rightwing media as well.)
The point is that the polarizing is only deepening and the hostility only growing, with no good end in sight.
Even as I write these words, I can feel the indignation rising in my heart and I can sense some of your own blood boiling as you read. Yet there is a very fine line between righteous indignation and unrighteous anger, a very fine line between holy grief and unholy bitterness.
That’s why Paul wrote, “Be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26) and Jacob (James) admonished, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
As for true wisdom, he wrote, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).
How, then, do we each do our part to be one of those cooler heads and one of those truly wise people?
First, we step back, take a deep breath, and worship. Focusing on God has a calming and encouraging effect. He has not fallen off His throne.
Second, we determine to guard our tongues. We think before we speak and post. (On a regular basis, I have to remind followers not to post comments before they read the article or watch the video in question.) We weigh our words, asking, “Will these words bring life or death?”
Third, we refuse to spread unverified stories or repeat Internet rumors. We verify. We check. We look for confirmation in multiple sources. We test our theories critically. And even then, we ask ourselves, “Is there a good reason for me to share this? Will it edify? Is it constructive? Is it necessary?”
Fourth, we recognize the humanity of every person on the left, right, or in the middle. All of them were created in God’s image, Jesus died for all of them, and all of them have the possibility of redemption.
This doesn’t mean that we trust everyone, agree with everyone, or work with everyone. But it does mean we remember that they, too, are flesh and blood, people with beating hearts, people with family and friends, people with goals and aspirations. Most of them are not Hitler incarnate, so we ought not to treat them as if they were.
Back in 2012, my home congregation was notified by the police that there was going to be a gay protest at our Sunday morning service. I was going to be out of the country, but at my request, the pastor posted a warm invitation to the protesters to join us for the service, and we had greeters outside offering them refreshments. I also got on the radio the day before and encouraged to come in large numbers, telling them that we had been praying for them for years.
In the end, only about 10 people showed up to protest, leaving after 15 minutes with an apology. The next day, the leader of the protest called into my radio show to apologize publicly for the protest, explaining that their “anger . . . was aimed [in] the wrong direction.”
Then he said this, “Once we got there Sunday morning we were greeted with absolutely perfect love. I mean, it was fantastic.”
After accepting his apology, I said to him, “My question is this. I’m not changing and you’re not changing. So how do live together as neighbors in the same city?”
He said that was his question as well, which led to him and his partner having dinner with the pastor and me.
We didn’t succeed in changing their viewpoints, but we did see each other’s humanity more deeply. We built a bridge rather than tore it down.
Perhaps, by seeking to love our neighbors as ourselves (which means the nasty neighbors too), we can do our part in saving our nation from disaster.
Of course, we should not back down an inch from our convictions, nor should we capitulate in any way to evil. But we must not lose our own souls in the midst of the battle. There is a better way.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.