It’s a mad, mad world

Published 8:53 pm Saturday, June 27, 2015

If there’s one thing that’s been clear on my Facebook feed this week, it’s that we live in a time of anger and discord, a time of madness.

Perhaps you’ve seen it, too. Confederate flags, race relations, marriage and even love have all been flashpoints of bitterness between people lined up on opposite sides of a cultural chasm in recent weeks.

I love to catch up with friends on Facebook, but I have found myself dreading the drama and rage I’ve had to scroll past in the pursuit of the usual proud-parent photos and cute kitten videos.


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Surely we’ve all got deeply held beliefs, and pretty much nobody is willing to entertain the idea that their own beliefs might be wrong, but somehow our highly connected world has changed the dynamic that once served to unite people of different faiths, races, creeds and classes.

Now, everything is black or white, gay or straight, Christian or heathen, 1 percent or 99 percent. And, most important to this new world — NEVER SHALL THE TWAIN MEET!

Despite all the opportunities social media, email, texting and the Internet give us to connect and find our many commonalities, we focus on the little things that make us different from one another — and we turn those little things into excuses to figuratively (and, in grotesque cases like the Charleston shootings, literally) destroy one another.

So your cousin expressed a Facebook opinion about the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage that you consider narrow and old-fashioned? Unfriend him now! Tired of seeing folks call for laying aside the Confederate battle flag? Change your profile photo to the Stars ‘n’ Bars, and let’s see if that’ll shut them up!

I’m a conservative, Virginia-born follower of Christ. My best friend is a liberal, New York atheist. As you can imagine, sometimes it’s hard for us to chat about current events. In fact, we flat-out avoid lots of issues when we’re corresponding online, because we know there are landmines in play. That said, there’s not much that’s completely off limits in person, because we recognize there are important ideals we share — things like loving our families and our nation — even if we approach the fulfillment of those ideals from completely different directions.

We also have separately come to the understanding that neither of us wins anything by trying to force a change of heart in the other. I can be satisfied knowing I’m right about my ideals without having to force him to acknowledge I’m right, too. I assume he feels the same way. We’ve effectively chosen to love one another as friends, even at the cost of temporarily conceding the cultural argument.

In fact, my atheist friend is better at “loving one another” than some of my Christian friends have shown themselves to be in recent weeks.

It’s truly a mad, mad, mad, mad world in which we live.