Three months ago I wrote about wanting to shut up. As it turns out, shutting up happened, and only now am I starting, maybe, to figure out why.
It was never intentional. Since my Black Lives Matter post on June 26 (the â€œshut upâ€ post), Iâ€™ve written two pieces for this blog. Both are OK. Both may be useful to others. But something held me back from publishing them.
Then yesterday I posted an angry comment to a friendâ€™s political post about the Supreme Court nominations. (I sharply refuted my friendâ€™s premise and called Mitch McConnell a hypocrite.) I believe the word hypocrite is accurate. I saw, and still see, value in countering the argument (made in the original post) that â€œboth sides are guilty.â€ Yet something else hit me too: my comment might alienate friends, and it will change nothing.
Which got me thinking that posting to social media in 2020â€”especially opinions and perspectives about the state of the worldâ€”is pointless. At least for me.
Itâ€™s pointless because of a saying attributed to Jesus: those who have ears, let them hear. As a group, as a nation, as a culture in 2020, America no longer has ears. If you want evidence, visit some of the more contentious corners of social media. You wonâ€™t have to look far.
I wonder if this is feeding my heartâ€™s desire to shut up. Why share a thought in the American public square (of which social media has become a central part) when America has no ears to hear?
Itâ€™s not all this way, of course. A few of my most amazing friends are managing to have honest, tough, openhearted, and/or respectful conversations on social media. May they do so forever. I have to find another way.
To date Iâ€™ve found several activities that look like â€œanother way,â€ and maybe they are. Not long ago, one of those amazing friends said this to me: in a culture where no oneâ€™s listening to one another, the saving grace might be art. To oversimplify, comments and opinions try to tell people what things mean; art invites people to make their own meaning. So Iâ€™m writing personal essays as a way of saying to readers, â€œHereâ€™s something I learned/wrestled with in my life. See what you can make of it.â€
Thereâ€™s also prayer. Wouldnâ€™t you know it, todayâ€™s email brings a message from Richard Rohr, ecumenical teacher and mystic, quoting 20th-century teacher Bede Griffiths: It is only in prayer that we can communicate with one another at the deepest level of our being. The idea that we can connect with one another by going inwardâ€”via God, through the vehicle of prayerâ€”is classic contemplative thinking.
All of this is in the early stages, and Iâ€™m sure there might be other â€œother waysâ€ to connect and communicate as well. What do you think? What in this post, if anything, resonates with you? What new ideas does it spark?