It’s no secret that I love Christmas music. A couple of years ago I did a whole series of posts about Christmas. 25 days worth. I even made a playlist! I have loved Christmas music for as long as I can remember. It was a big part of our family growing up, as was music in general. Our church choir would start working on Christmas music in September or October. So, it wasn’t unusual to hear music before that. During my time as a worship pastor I would often start in June/July to find just the right music so we’d be ready to start rehearsals in September.
But that’s not the reason I listen to Christmas music in October.
One reason is, I just love it. I know I said it already. I don’t love the top 20 songs that get played on most radio stations and in most stores. That stuff is old and annoying, and if that’s the only Christmas music you hear, I’m not surprised to hear you say you don’t like it. But, there are thousands of albums by thousands of artists. There is some great stuff out there, and that’s what I listen to. There’s so much more, that if you waited until Christmas to listen to it, you’d never hear most of it.
Another reason is I just love Christmas. I love the weather at Christmas time. I love time with family. I love Christmas movies. I am actually glad to see decorations in the stores already. Christmas is wonderful.
But the real reason I listen to Christmas music in October is because it reminds me of the story of Christmas. Not the commercialized story. Not Santa. Not Christmas lists, be they children’s or grown up. Not Frosty. Those are fun, I don’t have a problem with them. But, the real story of the incarnation. God becoming a man. Redemption. It’s the beginning of everything we celebrate as followers of Christ.
I love Christmas because it celebrates that at the time Jesus came there was great despair. There were vast amounts of people who had lost hope that a savior would ever come. There was a great hopelessness in the world and a longing for emmanuel to come (I just listened to that song).
I love Christmas because Christ came to the lowliest of low people. His big grant introduction was to shepherds instead of kings.
I love Christmas because it reminds us that the one true God actually walked on this earth and knows what it is like to be a human being. The one true God was among the people He created. He breathed our air and walked our sod. Immanuel, God With Us.
Yes, I love Easter and Good Friday. In fact, I wish we had more resurrection songs. We have a lot of songs about the cross and a lot of songs about Jesus paying for our sins. Not enough about Jesus’ triumph over death, hell and the grave.
But, during these few months, we have Christmas music. It reminds us of Jesus’ coming. It reminds us of the beginning of the story. It gets me thinking about how to share this story with more people. It gets me thinking about being thankful for what Jesus did. You could could say it gets me in the Christmas mood.
And let’s be honest. The Christmas mood is a good thing. The world would be a lot better off if more people were in the Christmas mood more. I’m not talking about the bad memories you might have surrounding Christmas. I’m talking about the mood that comes when you know the truth of the real story of Christmas. The joy that comes when you have a personal relationship with the central character of the story.
That’s why I love Christmas. That’s why I love Christmas music. It was obviously a big deal to God. He disseminated details about Christmas for hundreds and hundreds of years before it happened. The first Christmas songs were written hundreds of years before Jesus came. People were hoping for the arrival of Immanuel long before. The anticipation lasted much more than a couple of weeks or a couple of months or even a couple of centuries.
So, whoever tells you that you’re crazy for listening to Christmas music, feel free to ignore their comments. You may be come kind of scrooge that thinks you can’t listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. I’m sorry you feel that way because you’re missing out on a lot. And don’t use that “I don’t want to downplay Thanksgiving” excuse. Thanksgiving is an American holiday. God created Christmas. Big difference. I’m thankful – thankful that Jesus came – thankful for Christmas.
Give it a try today. Let yourself listen to Christmas music before November 1st. See if you don’t find yourself experiencing more Joy. Let the lyrics of the songs of the real Christmas story remind you that God loved you so much that He sent His son to be born as a baby.
Don’t rebel against the commercialization of Christmas either. Yes, it can be disgusting. No we don’t need to focus so much on presents. But, nearly the entire, unbelieving world is focused around this one day. Think of that, more than Easter, people who don’t believe in Christ stop to celebrate his arrival on earth! Don’t be someone who showers condemnation on those who like to celebrate it in big fashion. Just let the way the true Christmas story has changed you shine the light of the star that points the way to the messiah.
It’s okay. Go ahead. Hit the play button. Don’t let yourself be swayed from listening by all the Christmas music haters out there. It’s your choice. Enjoy it. Let it lift your spirit.
Sing we now of Christmas? Yes, let’s sing now!
Facebook is filled with it. The world wants desperately for you to choose it. It’s a secret most don’t want you to know. Because if you find out, there’s a good chance it will have devastating consequences for the way of life that is derived from it.
What is “it”?
“It” is the way we define ourselves. “It” is about the source of our identity.
You see, the world wants you to find your definition in all of the things that keep the world’s profit margins up for the shareholders.
They want you to define yourself based on the compare and contrast model. You contrast yourself to someone else and see how you compare.
I’m not just talking about possessions. Yes it is one of the areas. You see that your friend has a new phone, so you want a new phone. Your ride in your friends new car so you want a new car. You start to define your level of success based on your ability to keep up with your friends. A big part of the danger is that you’re not just comparing yourself to one person, but to many. One friend has the means to buy a new phone, but not necessarily the means to buy a new car. While the one person you are trying to keep up with may make close to the same amount as you, that’s not true when you add them all up. You are trying to keep up with a multimillion dollar enterprise when you consider the incomes of all the different people. Possessions is an aspect, but it’s only one.
We see someone with a different body style and chemistry post a picture of themselves on Facebook or Twitter. We see, in one snapshot, the effects of a journey they have been on. They have been working on it for years, and we see the progress they have made. And we compare ourselves to that picture. We don’t compare ourselves to the journey, we compare ourselves to the results we see. And we don’t measure up.
We see someone who has a gift or talent that we don’t have and what they are able to do with it. And we compare. They have a natural ability that makes them so good at what they do. We aren’t even close. We wish we were.
We see the highlights of someone else’s life that they post and we compare ourselves to them. We see the snapshots of what they did today but didn’t see the work that went into that one snapshot. We see the picture of their kids, but we didn’t see the coercion that took place before the picture was snapped to get the kids to look at the camera. We don’t see any of that. We just see the one moment of perfection and compare it to our lifetime of imperfection.
We see someone all dressed up and going out for a fun night, but didn’t see them before they got into the shower.
I currently have 1,137 friends on Facebook. How many of you instantly compared yourself? How many of you instantly decided you were more or less successful based on whether you have more or less friends than I do?
I have 1,137 friends on Facebook. That’s 1,137 different lives. That’s 1,137 different highlight reels. That’s 1,137 different snapshots. It is impossible for me to keep up with what’s going on in that many lives. I can’t do it, let alone try to keep my life up with their lives. I can’t compare my life to that many lives and keep up. I may be able to keep up with one other person. Maybe two. But not 3, 300 or 3000. It’s impossible.
And that’s what we do every day. We look at the 50 people who post updates that morning and we compare ourselves to them. But for those 50 moments in time we see, there were also thousands of moments that led up to that one moment we saw.
For instance, my mom has been posting pictures of my dad’s progress in painting his barn. I see drastic differences in between the pictures. It’s amazing. But my dad has been hard at work scraping and pressure washing and painting a coat of primer and a coat of red paint. There has been a lot of work I haven’t seen. Hours and weeks of hours working to get to the point I saw.
Why do we define ourselves by comparison? Why do we contrast our lives with the lives of others and see how we measure up?
I think the answer is simple. It’s because we are still at the center of our universe. We are still responsible for our own identity. And when we are responsible for our identity the only way to know if we are making any progress is to look around us and see if we are ahead of or behind of the others around us.
But, what if we’re not supposed to be at the center of our own universe? What if we weren’t built for everything to revolve around us? How would that change things?
What if you weren’t defined by what you do? What if you weren’t defined by your successes or failures? What if you weren’t defined by your abilities and talents? What if you weren’t defined by your possessions? What if you weren’t defined by your highlights? What if you weren’t defined by polished moments you are willing to share with the world?
Wouldn’t that be freeing? Wouldn’t that change everything?
The truth of the matter is, that is the truth of the matter.
You aren’t defined by comparison. You aren’t defined by you.
You are defined by whose image you are made in. Your value does not change based on your ability to outperform people on Facebook. Your value does not change based on anything you can do or own. Your worth is not based on the amount in your account. You are made in God’s image. That means you have value no matter what. That means you are irreplaceable. There is only one you. God created you and designed you. You have worth just as you are. You have worth because you are made in God’s image.
You have so much worth that God sent his son to die for you. You have so much worth that the creator of the universe left behind his kingly throne, walked this earth, paid the ransom for yours and my sins. You have so much worth that God went through all that so that He could walk with you, know you, dwell in you.
That’s who you are. That’s your definition. It’s not your past. It’s not the mistakes you’ve made. It’s not your sexuality. It’s not your income. It’s not your family. It’s not your body type. It’s not your blood type or your skin type. It’s not the color of your hair, the size of your pants or your address. It’s not how up with culture you are. It’s not which political party you affiliate with. It’s not the causes you fight for. It’s not who you were. It’s not the others you wish you could be. It’s none of that.
See yourself, today as God sees you. Made in His Image. Worth the life of His son. Valuable. Priceless. Irreplaceable. Loved. Sons and Daughters of the Most High God.
I am sure I will be raked over the coals for my thoughts in this post. To be honest, I don’t care.
I’m not even going to try to make a strong biblical case. I probably could. That’s not my goal.
This week, in fantasy football, someone tried to trade me three players for Tom Brady. I’m not a fan of Tom Brady. I don’t like his off the field example. I don’t like the patriots. But, it’s fantasy football and he scores points. As you can imagine, I scoffed at the idea. “You’ve got to be kidding me?!” Ummm, decline trade.
For my whole life, I’ve been pro-death penalty. It’s in the Bible. If you commit a crime against another person created in the image of God that results in their death, there is a prescribed response. It’s even logical. If you kill a bunch of people, there’s a likelihood you will have to pay with your own life.
I’ve been in several arguments about the death penalty. I’ve argued for it. I’ll admit that. I’ll also admit that in the last several years, I’ve struggled with the concept. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one making that decision.
Since 1976 there have been 1,416 executions. 35 in 2014. 22 so far in 2015.
Now, let me take a turn for a moment. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of people “calling out” the hypocrisy of Christians for believing in the death penalty while at the same time being pro-life when it comes to the topic of abortion.
One thing to consider: This calling out is being presented as an exact apple to apple comparison. When in fact that is not the case. The person receiving the death penalty committed a crime that cause them to be put in that situation. Maybe some of them are innocent, but most who are there have made a choice that led them to be on death row.
This is not the case with the unborn. They did not commit a crime that led punishment by death. They have not been able to make mistakes. They have not made bad choices. They haven’t even been able to make someone mad at them. Someone who receives the death penalty has committed a crime that has led to that decision. An unborn child has committed no crime.
On another note, the death the unborn suffer is not nearly as humane as the murderer’s execution. The murderers and rapists get sedatives. Their death is quick by design. In seconds their life is over. Their bodies are not torn apart. Their body parts are not sold for profit afterwards. Some may donate their bodies to medical research, but they have that choice don’t they? (Correct me if I’m wrong.)
1,416 since 1976. 1,416 executions of people who committed a crime.
Since 1976, by my best calculation there have been 55,627,374. That’s not including 2015. So, 56 million. Almost 58 million since Roe V. Wade.
My aim in this post is simple. I would like to propose a trade.
If I give up the argument for the death penalty, will you give up abortion? Because I will gladly do so. I’ll fight for the life of those on death row if we can come to an agreement to end abortion. I’ll gladly share the love of Christ and the grace that covers every sin, no matter how severe with those who are waiting to die. Gladly. Just give me the opportunity. I’m more than willing.
The truth of the matter is, as long as we can point out the hypocrisy of others, we don’t have to worry as much about our own hypocrisy. If people can point out that I’m a hypocrite for being pro death penalty, they don’t feel as bad about their own hypocrisy. Regardless of whether or not I really am a hypocrite.
The truth of the matter is, the reason we’re not willing give up abortion is because of what it might require from us. It might require we be responsible adults. If we make a mistake that leads to pregnancy, we will have to be responsible for the life that results. It costs us something personally. Fighting for the life of someone on death row doesn’t cost much personally. Committing to being a parent for the rest of your life does.
Please don’t consider me unsympathetic. I have deep sympathy for those who suffer abuse and rape and other awful things that result in pregnancy. But, 97+ percent of abortions aren’t under those circumstances. I can’t imagine the struggle. But, I’ve also heard wonderful stories of redemption. How a mom decided to keep a baby in this situation, and that baby went on to be used by God for great things.
That’s because I believe in grace. And I know that grace can cover everything. Grace for the murderer. Grace for the unborn child. Grace for the parents who choose to follow through.
But, I suppose this is a trade that doesn’t have much of a chance of going through. Just like I wasn’t going to trade Tom Brady, we aren’t going to be able to make a death penalty for abortion trade.
But, can we come to an understanding? (Again, I understand the likelihood of this is also unlikely.) Would you mind not calling me a hypocrite for fighting for the life of the unborn? I’m willing to give up the death penalty and support life from womb to tomb.
I’m for life, not matter what the stage. I’m for life no matter how dinged up and damaged it may be. I have hope for those who don’t have hope for themselves.
I’m for life. I’m for the life of the mother. I’m for the life of the child. I’m for the life of the woman who’s been abused, raped and disrespected in unmentionable ways.
I’m for life.
I write about truth a lot. I talk about truth a lot. I’m old school that way. You may think truth isn’t that big of a deal. The truth is, the truth is a massive deal. The sad truth is, truth has been completely undermined in our society.
We have decided that we get to decide what’s right and wrong. We have decided we are the source of morality. We think we know what’s best and that we have the perspective to be able to make that decision.
“If God even exists, He is too outdated to know what is happening today. I don’t need to trust in some archaic principle that was created to control people. I know what’s best for me and I’m going to believe in me.” That’s the mantra we recite to ourselves.
Now we have entered into a time that is really hard to navigate. Because individuals (instead of God) are now the creators of truth and morality, everyone has their own truth and their own moral code. And because everyone has their own truth and their own moral code, it is virtually impossible to speak about any topic without offending someone.
It’s impossible, because saying something that is contradictory to someone’s truth and moral code is now an offense against their very being. We have wrapped ourselves up in our own identities. So any attack against my beliefs is an attack against me and my identity. The problem: we are identified by morality we have created for ourselves. We are defined by ourselves.
[tweetherder]The problem: we are identified by morality we have created for ourselves. We are defined by ourselves. [/tweetherder]
So, we try to make things “politically correct.” We say things in hopes that we won’t offend one group of people. While at the same time, knowing that what we say can be offensive to another group. But, the problem is, as many people as there are who follow the idea that truth is relative, are the same number of possible options that exist for identities. So, it is literally impossible to have a term that is “politically correct” because what’s politically correct for you is not “politically correct” for me.
Still, we try to judge, based on the popularity of specific ideas at this point in time, what is the most true for the most people. Actually, we try to decide what is the most true for the most people who agree with what we think is true. People who disagree don’t count. People who disagree are the problem and need to be dealt with.
Here is the great crisis we face as a result of this type of severely flawed thinking:
Imagine you are the prosecutor in a case against a serial killer. We’ll call him Doug. This maniac has killed 13 people in very grotesque ways. His victims include people of all ages and genders. He did not discriminate in who he chose to kill.
You think you have a solid and easy case. There is a very high probability this guy is going to jail for life.
As you take your seat at your table, you see Doug sitting at his table.
The bailiff comes into the courtroom. He, as he always does, says: “all rise.”
But then things go drastically different.
The bailiff continues, “The honorable judge Doug is presiding.”
And Defendant Doug leaves his spot at the defendants table to go sit in the judges seat.
You are flabergasted! “What in tarnation is going on?!” You shout out across the courtroom.
Judge Doug calls for order.
“May I approach the bench, your honor” you say to Doug.
“May I ask what is going on?”
This is precisely what is taking place in our society. Don’t hear me wrong. I’m not arguing for our country to be a theocracy. I’m not arguing for Christianity to be endorsed by the government as the official religion of our country. That’s not my aim.
My point is, who decides what is truth? Who decides what is right and wrong? When we try to adjust the Moral Code that God created from His position that is external and objective, we are removing him from the Judges seat and making ourselves both judge and defendant.
If God is not the one who creates morality, which human gets to decide? And how do you get that power? Who chooses who is going to decide what the truth is going to be? And how does someone get their name on the list of potential candidates to be the truth decider? What are the qualifications that have to be met so that they qualify? Do we all get to vote on this person who will be deciding our truth?
This is a major flaw in the idea that truth is relative, that we all get to decide what is right and wrong. We don’t get to decide. We choose whether or not we are going to believe in it, but we don’t get to decide. The truth is true no regardless of our belief in it.
Why don’t we get to decide? Well, I could decide to create a moral code where I get to kill whomever I choose. And my moral code could allow me to do unthinkable things to other people. My moral code could allow me to do unthinkable things to you. And as long as I’m the one that gets to decide the truth, you just have to deal with it. Because I’m the judge and the defendant. And the case is always going to be decided in my favor.
Let me help you out, let me help us all out. Truth does not change. Truth is not voted upon. Truth is not flexible. Truth is not always easy to deal with. Truth has hard edges and boundaries. Truth is always true.
Let me help you out a little further. You are not the one who decides your identity. Your identity is not wrapped up in what you have done, what you feel, what you desire and what you think. That ought to be good news to you. Your Identity and mine is wrapped up in God’s identity. God made us in His image. Yes we are fallen and broken, but we still reflect God. Your are not defined by anything you think or do. You are defined by the creator of the universe. And that’s the truth.
Whether you agree with it or not.
I remember. If you were alive, you remember too. I found out about the tragedy in class. Dr. Kutz informed us all of what had gone on before we arrived in his class. We didn’t have TV, so we didn’t see the news. This was before social media, even before cell phones and texting had become prominent. News didn’t travel as fast then.
I skipped chapel and went to the basement of Aslan’s Howe and turned on the news. It was unreal.
After a couple of hours of watching, it was time for lunch. We were sitting around talking about what we couldn’t believe had happened. Multnomah is relatively close to the Portland International Airport. In the lawn where we were eating, you could usually see many planes landing and taking off. But not that day. There were no planes in the skies except for F-15’s that would go screaming across the sky from time to time.
I remember hanging flags in the back windows of my car. And I remember a patriotic parade a couple of days later in Portland. A parade of cars and individuals expressing their patriotism.
That was 14 years ago today.
A lot has happened in 14 years. There have been other horrific events. There have been other joyous occasions. 14 years is a long time. I got married and had 4 kids. I’ve worked at 5 different churches. I’ve lived in 6 different houses/apartments.
That’s a lot of water under the bridge.
My oldest is 9 years old. She wasn’t alive. She doesn’t remember. She’s in the 4th grade. There are 7th and 8th graders who don’t remember. In 4-5 years, all the students in school will have been born after 9/11.
And I’ll be honest, I’m worried. I’m worried about what our kids are going to hear and learn about this fateful day. There are theories that stray from the truth of what happened. There are crazy conspiracy theories about what this day was. And I’m worried about what my kids and others are going to believe about this day.
This day isn’t political.
This day isn’t about a conspiracy by our government against our own nation.
This day isn’t a chance to promote an agenda.
This day isn’t an opportunity to attack capitalism and our country.
This day isn’t even about war.
Unfortunately, all these things and more are what this day has become. We have defrauded the families of the victims and repurposed a day of mourning to be a day to promote our stance on something.
What is this day about? Of course it’s about the pain and suffering of those who lost loved ones. It’s about mourning their loss. It’s about the lives of the heroic police officers and firemen/women who gave their lives trying to save others. It’s about the attack of thousands of civilians who were murdered. (Yes war is awful. But this wasn’t war. It was a murderous attack.)
But, I think there’s something more this day is about too. Something that has been lost in our time. In only a few short years, it has disappeared.
I could be wrong. If I am, I mean no disrespect to the families of the victims. But today is also about unity. Our country was unified in a way we may never again experience. On that day, and the weeks and months that followed, we were like minded. We mourned with those who mourned. We wept with those who wept. We were all a part of this tragedy.
We use this phrase ‘never forget’ as we talk about this day. Did you know that phrase originated from the holocaust? How many of us truly understand the depth of the tragedy that took place on that day? We don’t know a lot of the horrific details of what occurred as places like Auschwitz.
Like the holocaust, we face the same danger of forgetting this day. Our kids won’t know unless we tell them. If we don’t tell them, we run the risk of them believing whatever cockamamie conspiracy most suites their fancy. But, if we tell them…if we remind them…if we remember, we do the best service we can offer to those who were lost.
Especially as so many seek to use this day for their own agendas and purposes. If we remember the pain and horror of this day, we honor those who were lost. We dishonor them by allowing conspiracies and agendas to cloud this day. We dishonor them by taking this day and using it for our own gain. But, if we remember what happened, if we mourn with those who mourn, if we remember what actually and really happened on this day, we honor those who were lost.
Do you remember?
We have entered a scary new world. It’s a world where there are no absolutes. We define what’s true. If something makes us uncomfortable or requires us to change, well it must not be true. So instead of adapting to absolutes that have existed for all of time, we adapt the absolutes to meet our ideas. This is the world we live in. We are the decision makers. No one can tell us how to think or what to believe. We will decide for ourselves, thank you very much.
This, however, has caused a great dilemma. Because of this shift, truth has become something that is central to our being (as if absolute truth is not). We have created this truth. Because we are the creators of our own truth, disagreement becomes a bit more personal.
Dissenters aren’t just disagreeing with a philosophy, they are disagreeing with me. And they aren’t simply disagreeing with me, they are disagreeing with the core of who I am – the thing I have wrapped my identity up in – the center of my life.
So, when I create my own truth and someone disagrees with me, I am inclined to interpret their disagreement as hatred. “If you don’t agree with my truth, that must mean you dislike me as a person because I created that truth.”
How do we proceed in a world where everyone has their own truth?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. It’s tricky. It’s even dangerous. We are seeing that played out before our eyes these days. Whether it’s the murdering of law enforcement officials, the murdering of people of a different race than our own, the slaughter of Christians in the middle east or the derogation of Christians who have beliefs that counter the culture around us, it feels dangerous to support truth.
But, this is not a new problem. This is the problem that was born in the garden of eden. When the serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit, he established the dilemma:
“‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.'” (Gen 3: 5)
It would seem, that prior to this instance the only truth that Adam and Eve could see was God’s truth. I’m not entirely sure what they saw. I know they walked with God in the garden – and to do that they had to be righteous and holy.
One thing is clear, it is becoming much more difficult to separate a person’s beliefs from their being. When someone’s identity is wrapped up in their created “truth” it feels like hatred if we disagree with them. (By the way, I have been contrasting the absolute truth created by God with “truth” created by man. By definition, there can only be one truth. If truth is what is, there can only be one. This is either a tree or not a tree, it cannot be both a tree and a fish at the same time.)
But, let us go back to the garden. Prior to eating the fruit, Adam and Eve’s identity was wrapped in up whose image they were created in. They were both made in God’s image. After eating the fruit, they sought to hide that image. They knew they were naked and felt ashamed to be that way. So they covered themselves.
Truth, in its unaltered state is freeing. It sets us free from the shame that we are covered in by the nature of our sinful state.
So, may I ask, are you free? Has the truth set you free? Freed people free people. So, if we’re free, our response to those who aren’t free should be one of compassion and hope that there is freedom they can find if they will believe the truth.
If your “truth” is causing you to hate, then that should be a pretty clear sign that you have not yet found the truth. If you interpret opposing ideas as hatred towards you, that’s another sign that you are clinging to the lie instead of the truth.
If you believe me to be wrong, that the truth I cling to is wrong and your reaction to me because of my belief is hatred, then I urge you to take a deeper look. Because my truth drives me to love you unconditionally.
A word of clarification, while my truth drives me to love you unconditionally, it does not require me to agree with you unconditionally. In fact, I cannot agree with a lie. And it is love the drives us to stand up for the truth and to try to persuade you to believe it. If I didn’t love you, I would let you go on believing what you believe without saying anything. I wouldn’t care that you’re destined for destruction. But the love of Christ compels me to show you the truth so that you may be set free.
But, I would urge you to understand that we who disagree with what you believe do not hate you. Our disagreement is actually love. We want you to be set free.
Disagreement does not equal hatred. In fact, disagreeing with you could quite possibly be the most loving thing I do.
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32
PS – It would probably be a good idea to read the rest of John 8…
I should also add this: you may not agree with me, and I may not agree with you. That does not mean we have to hate one another. Somewhere along the way, we stopped being able to have civil disagreement. We can disagree on almost any topic without it driving us to act out in aggression towards those who disagree with us. The fact that I disagree with you does not drive me to want to destroy you or the world you live in. The fact that you disagree with me should not drive you to destroy me, to want to harm me or to write me off as a human being.
We can disagree without hating one another. In fact, I think that’s the way we can make the world a better place.
If you’re only surrounded by people who agree with you, then you never have the chance to sharpen your thoughts and ideas about what you believe. If I only have people around me who think the same way I do, I never get challenged to think about what I believe. It is through civil & respectful disagreement that we actually have the opportunity to understand the world better. And the better we understand the world (not just one side of it), the more likely we will be to be able to solve its problems.
And wouldn’t that be better anyway? Wouldn’t it be better to solve the problems that divide us instead of merely yelling at the people who don’t think like we do?