Why Is Our Activism So Mean?
From the time I can remember, I’ve been an avid follower of the news. When I was a kid the news came in two ways. It showed up every morning at the foot our driveway in the northern suburbs of Chicago in the form of three newspapers: The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Herald and The Chicago Sun Times. And the news showed up on the radio, as I listened to the WGN Radio or WBBM Newsradio, the all-news station, and sometimes at the top of the hour on Moody Radio. We didn’t have a TV.
I also subscribed to magazines like U.S. News and World Report and The National Review. I always had a keen interest what was going on in the world. Today, of course, the news floods across our social media timelines and interrupts us in the form of phone alerts. Friend text us links. We can’t escape it, it seems.
As I said in my last column, I don’t believe Christians can adequately live out the demands of the gospel without active engagement in the world. In a representative Republic like ours, one of the ways we love our neighbors is to use our voice and vote to help shape the society our neighbors live in. For most of my life I’ve been involved in advocacy in one form or another, sometimes helping friends run for office, sometimes as a pastor helping Christians think through complex issues, sometimes marching for the sanctity of human life, sometimes using my pen, and, in the last decade, working at Christian organizations with advocacy as part of their mission.
I believe in this work. Christians should be at work like this in the world and yet today it seems our activism has become so … mean. I don’t want to blame social media entirely for this increasing meanness, because malice has been in the world since Eden. There are so many factors at work that have further polarized people. Yet social media platforms have given us a stage by which we can advocate for issues in a much more public and vocal way. I think this is mostly good, as voices can converge around issues and can build momentum for change.