Looking out my window today I’m actually pondering the upcoming U.S. elections. It’s been a wild ride for presidential candidates this year and depending on who you’re talking with, the U.S. presidential candidates are quite polarizing. Not only are the candidates polarizing, but the candidates themselves can be downright nasty at times! There was a time when certain areas were simply out of bounds when it came to politics. But my oh my how times have changed. These days it seems it’s open season on anything.
As some of you know, my wife and I spent a number of years in New York State before moving back to Canada a few years ago. As a result, my Facebook friends are quite varied geographically. Actually, my Facebook friends come from almost every corner of the world. It’s been very interesting to note how just about everyone – no matter what their geographical location might be – has an opinion on the U.S. Presidential race this year. Some people stay out of the political opinion world, while others dabble in it. Then there are those who are fully involved posting anything and everything they might think is either good or bad about the political situation. Some Facebook friends who do not wish to take part in the political rhetoric have actually posted updates saying – “If you fill my feed with political rants, I will unfriend you!” Wow, that’s a little harsh. I’m so glad I discovered the “Unfollow” button on Facebook. Now I can simply stop “following” a person which means we remain friends on Facebook, but I no longer see their posts.
All the political rhetoric has once again reminded me of the wealth of wisdom found in the Book of Proverbs when it comes to advice on “holding one’s tongue”. An area Pastor and I attempt to connect once a week for what we call our Proverbial Lunch. We’ve been reading a chapter from Proverbs a day for a little more than a year and we connect to simply chat about what we’re gleaning from the reading. A couple weeks ago I highlighted two particular passages.
Proverbs 17:14 – “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out” and Proverbs 18:2 – “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions”.
On both of those passages I made similar notes pointing out that there are a number of Proverbs addressing the idea of “holding ones tongue”. In this social media world full of so much noise and opinions – which can lead to quarrels – one would do well to remember these Proverbs before tossing opinions online. It is all too easy to get caught up in expressing our opinions all over the place. Through modern technology we sit in front of our computer or smartphone and quickly type what we believe is some “golden nugget of truth” and hit the “post” button. Then, just as quickly as we hit post, others pile on with their opinions and if we’re not careful, we’re suddenly pulled into doing nothing more than adding noise to the rhetoric of “airing our own opinions”.
Another way of looking at this revolves around seating placement at a wedding feast. In Luke 14 Jesus encourages us to “not sit in the place of honor” when you show up for a wedding. He goes on to say, it is best to sit in the “last place, so your host will come and tell you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in front of everyone at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted”.
Where are you sitting today with your opinions? Have you forced your way to the head of the table? Or are you waiting to be invited and asked for your opinion?
Looking Out My Window is a regular column in the Northumberland Today newspaper located in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.