Getting to the other side of a river of filth

I’ve been thinking.

It’s that kind of thinking you do on a deep and personal level when the world may seem just a bit too much to handle. This kind of thinking is usually accompanied by the “mirror talk” that I’ve written about in the past.

I’ve been trending negative due to spending too much time on social media. In truth, I’d like to eliminate all my social sites, but being in the communication dissemination business means you’ve got to stay relatively connected. So, I’ve been keeping up with posts to see if any human-interest, feel-good stories can be shared for the Webster Parish Journal. I don’t like going on social media. In fact, I loathe it. Just despise social media. You see, for all the good it does, there’s a whole lotta bad. People are just cruel to one another. Local people. People you know. Neighbors. Folks you go to church with. These aren’t folks out there in places far away that I’m writing about.

It was starting to affect me a little. I wanted to make a few remarks. I didn’t because it wouldn’t change anyone’s mind and only cause problems. So, I just unfollowed. I’ve been doing that a lot lately as well. Unfollowing and thinking. And in my self-reflection, I came to the realization that America’s greatest single problem is a lack of empathy. Social media just makes it too easy to be rude, to say things when we’re angry that can’t be taken back. Toothpaste can’t go back into the tube. 

A favorite quote of mine is that the internet has made a lot of us way too comfortable disrespecting people and not getting punched in the mouth for it. As a friend told me, we all need to think about the effect our posts can have on the lives of others. I just don’t think we do. I know I haven’t in the past. 

I’m going to stay on social media. I have to because I chose to go back to a world where I need to know what’s going on so I can share the GOOD in our lives even though it means wading through a river of filth. What we can forget, digitally and face to face, is everyone you know – and have problems with – is a person the same as you. These digital enemies of yours have good days and bad days and fears and hopes and desires. Nine billion of us. And I like to think very few of us mean to harm others as we go about our lives. 

So, I have just one hope this Monday evening. One prayer to the Higher Power who gives me nudges when I need them and love that I’ve done nothing to earn. Help me and help all of us to see people for who they are – uncertain and alone, cold in the dark without each other – rather than what we’ve made them out to be – obstacles and merchants of pain standing in our paths to happiness.

Help us always remember the Word – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Just a thought on a Monday evening.

(Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times by the Louisiana Press Association for excellence in opinion writing.)

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