Friday, June 12, 2020

The Enemy Within

So I had a thought you may choose to disregard as you see fit, but you’re here, so I assume you will indulge for a minute. Scrolling through my facebook feed to see nothing but politic posts, us-versus-them memes, and Black Lives Matter diatribes (sadly, gone are the days of cute puppies and family photos), it suddenly occurred to me as I clicked on the ‘like’ option of one particular post, not to like the post itself, but to see others who had. How many of us - upon allowing a particular post to fire us up in agreement or dismay - click on said icon simply to see who is ‘with’ or ‘against’ us? Yikes! I will preface this one by confidently asserting that I am guilty! Hence the desire to blog. You see, dear friends in my camp and those who unabashedly take an opposing stance, it is my firm belief that change, REAL change can only occur when we whole-heartedly lay down arms and open our ears and our hearts to the plight and insight of others. And so that is where this post begins, with a desire to look within and affect change, not a desire to find fault in the actions and beliefs of others.

I will begin by saying that your beliefs matter to you and rightly so. And my beliefs matter to me as well. This post is not about either. This post is strictly about our inherent need to validate our position, garner attention, assign blame and identify an enemy when we are faced with conflicting ideals and issues that at this present moment, seem to be causing a rift that might just prove insurmountable. I’ve been struggling on a soul-searching level as of late and I may have scratched the surface. How is it possible that people on both sides of these ongoing debates are reading the same articles, privy to the same interviews, viewing the same videos and yet doubling down on their positions respectively? How can the other side not see what I see? How can the divide be spreading and the hurt be deepening and the hate be growing so exponentially on a minute-by-minute basis?

Cognitive dissonance. My new best friend and ally in understanding. The mental conflict that occurs when a person’s behaviors and beliefs do not align. It may happen when a person holds two beliefs that contradict one another. It causes feelings of unease and tension, and people attempt to relieve this discomfort in different ways. Examples include “explaining things away” or rejecting new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs. It may look like this:

So that explains a bit (in my mind anyway and this post is literally, the musings of MY mind). Now where do we go from here? If indeed, both sides are guilty of cognitive dissonance, how can we ever reach a place of enlightenment? How do we bridge the gap? How do we come to a place of agreement, though I’ll settle for an agreement to disagree and a little peace and quiet at this point? Why, do we as finite human beings, have to name an enemy when we cannot see eye to eye? And in my self-exploration, it hit me like a freight train. There IS an enemy and man, he is doing a superb job and sadly, we are allowing him to do so. You see, my brothers and sisters - those I hold near and dear to my heart AND those I don’t know personally, the enemy is not each other. It is not the conservatives and not the liberals. It is not those who tout “Black Lives Matter” or those who tout “All Lives Matter.” It is definitely not our boys (and girls) in blue. It’s not even the rioters, looters or mainstream media, but that is certainly an argument you can make and I will not challenge you. The enemy is alive and well and he is swiftly and effectively allowing us to destroy ourselves from the inside out. On THIS I will not remain silent. 

While you are name calling and throwing tantrums, he is moving around your neighborhood, whispering lies and dividing your relationships at the very core. How many have you “unfriended” this week? While you are fact checking and preparing to do battle, his army is already at the front lines. How many statistics did you discover today that support your position? While you sit on your soap box reciting the quote of the day (which I’ve done ad nauseam in the last few weeks), he sits silently in the midst of every conversation you have, planting seeds and sowing lies and celebrating small victories. Make no mistake, there is an enemy and he is not idle. Here’s a funny thought. He does not care one iota what your actual beliefs are and does not have an opinion on Covid, the BLM movement or police brutality. These things are merely a means to an end. And make no mistake, his ultimate goal is not to defund the police, end racism or ensure you are wearing your mask. His goal, his ONLY goal is to pry you from the hands of the only one who can truly unite, tear down walls, end suffering and bring ultimate peace. Can you hear me now? I can hear you, but this is my blog. Get your own blog (she says with a light-hearted humor, true to her nature). It takes only the smallest fracture to create the greatest divide. Given the right amount of pressure and circumstance, the chip in the windshield  that once was barely noticeable is now a gaping hole that is completely obstructing our view. Let’s be clear (pun intended), there are absolutes and their are grey areas, but let’s assign blame where blame is due. If you truly seek to start a revolution, I pray that you begin with a simple acknowledgement. You are not the enemy of your neighbor. You are being deceived if you believe this to be true. We may disagree. We may hurt each other - intentionally and unintentionally. We may look, feel and conform to different ideology, but WE are not enemies. There is one true enemy and to allow him a foothold is to the detriment of us all. Lord, help us! No really, sweet baby Jesus, Heavenly Father and lover of our souls - ALL OF OUR SOULS, please help us! We are a nation in need of healing. We are a nation in need of understanding and of patience. We are a nation falling prey to a ruthless enemy who seeks to divide and in so doing, conquer. We are a nation lost and he is winning simply because we are rolling out the red carpet. 

If we suffer in our marriages and our relationships are faltering, what do we do? When we lose the ability to listen and HEAR each other, to allow the perspective of another to matter more than our own, where do we find solace? When we have simply come to the end of ourselves and are ready to throw in the towel, where does our help come from? We may often seek mediation, counseling, an unbiased middle man with an unfiltered eye and no dog in the fight. Why then, should today be any different. From where I sit, it seems we are all at an impasse. If indeed, we feel unheard, misunderstood and frankly, crazy frustrated, isn’t it time for a mediator? And more importantly, what is the message that mediator would bring? Let me start and end here. The message is that of every good mediator, counselor, friend and ally. Open your ears and hear each other. See the good in each other. Be kind. Be humble. Be willing and able to admit your shortcomings. Seek peace. Use.Your.Words. And let your words be few. Let them be as few as this. “I love you.” Because my counselor, my mediator, my ally and my protector is nothing short of love and grace and I will accept and expect no less from myself and those around me. Justice is not JUST US. Justice is all of us. We are all entitled to the same privileges and what a privilege it is to be loved, adored and championed by a God who is able (and willing) to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. 

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
~Micah 6:8

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