Reformed Chicks Blabbing

Reformed Chicks Blabbing

The peace that passes all understanding, pt. 1

I’m coming out of my normal hiding place to make a few comments.
The internet is a strange place. It is often a wonderful place, a helpful place, a unifying place. But it is also alienating, cold, and is the perfect medium in which to depersonalize others.
Through it, I have seen people reach out to help strangers in need, to offer prayers and kind thoughts to ailing friends of friends. And through it, I have likewise seen ever surprising cruelty that goes beyond rudeness, venturing into the ugly and hateful.
I find it so interesting to read Facebook and Twitter updates, because people use their freedom of speech to emote about all manner of things. Among my friends and acquaintances are political conservatives, moderates, and liberals. They are Christian, decidedly not Christian, and decidedly undecided. Full quiver, no quiver, vegan and meat loving, school teachers and home educators, people from every era and corner of my life are represented there.
I do not always agree with their comments.
I do not always agree with their lifestyle choices.
I do not always agree with the ballots that they cast.
But I will never elevate my own desire to be “right” over your desire to just be.
No matter how eloquently I may speak, without love, I am a clanging cymbal. And so, my mission is to be encouraging and loving in every online interaction.
Why is it so much easier for some people to be charitable face to face than it is for them to be that way in the anonymous blogosphere? I understand that when a person creates a blog, he or she invites a certain level of public scrutiny and criticism. But why does the very semblance of human decency cease to exist when one is hiding behind a pseudonym? If I were your neighbor, your co-worker, your high school honey, would you feel quite so comfortable calling me an idiot and taking joy in my suffering? And would I deserve such contempt simply because I dare to disagree with your political leanings?
There can be peace, even among those who must agree to disagree. This is not some wishy-washy surrender to moral relativism, but a real desire to live at peace with all people, as much as it depends on me.

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posted March 26, 2010 at 9:17 am

Given that you haven’t been posting I imagine you’ve been feeling ill. I hope that changes and you feel better in the near future.
Your question is a good question and here’s my take on it. First people can treat each other pretty badly in the real world too. Second the internet creates a layer of abstraction which undermines people’s ability to see the other person as fully real. Third, anonymity brings out a toxic aspect in some people’s personalities.
Trying to write like people you know are reading it strikes me as the ideal. The only reason to be anonymous should be the concern that a future employer will do a Google search and might not hire you because they didn’t like your opinion.

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posted March 26, 2010 at 10:57 am

Hi MH,
Just to clarify, Michele didn’t write that piece, I (Angela) did. Michele is not feeling well, so I thought I’d at least write something to fill up the space. And after reading some of the comments here, well, I’m just glad that Michele hasn’t been reading. I felt attacked on her behalf.
I agree with much of what you said above, particularly this: “anonymity brings out a toxic aspect in some people’s personalities.”
So true. The internet age has afforded us the ability to be anonymous far more easily than ever before. While I appreciate the desire to maintain privacy for many reasons (including the one that you mentioned above), I think it’s just very sad that so many use it as an invisibility cloak to go around spewing venom.
Thanks for you comment!

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posted March 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Thanks Angela and sorry for confusing the authors.

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Tom M.

posted March 27, 2010 at 8:54 am

First, Michelle has done a great service to me with this blog. I feel sad about her cancer and hope that Christ will either heal her soon or take her to Himself.
Second, have you ever read Dostoyevsky’s novel THE IDIOT? I do speak my opinion, and perhaps on account of that, in God’s Providence I am “under-employed,” but I do have the compensation of being genuine with people, and having most of them be genuine with me.
Third, as far as peace goes, it’s also necessary to have a theory of war, whether it’s spiritual warfare against the devil, or being able to subdue tyrants or juvenile delinquents who beat up 80 year old men and women. Happily the Bible and even some of the pagan classics are helpful here. My own disdain for the Left is mostly due to their promise of “peace, peace,” when there is no peace.

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posted March 27, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I very much appreciate your candor and sincerity, Angela. It saddens me very much when I see a comment like Tom’s — the use of the word “disdain” and the insistence on characterizing “the left” as though it is one monolithic entity (certainly no one I know on what you call the left believes the ideas you attribute to all of them) and either too stupid or ignorant to see the truth. As I have said before, it is very difficult for any argument to be compelling unless it assumes the good intentions of the other side.
We all want the same thing — a peaceful, healthy, happy, meaningful life for ourselves and our children. Our only disagreement is about the best way to achieve that. I can guarantee you, “disdain” and insults are not the way to achieve any of the goals we share.
Please give my best wishes to Michele. I often disagree with her arguments and her tone, but I wholeheartedly wish her well in body and spirit.

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Robert R.

posted March 27, 2010 at 9:06 pm

This post reflects a lovely spirit. Thank you.

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posted March 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Very good post Angela. I too,(Susan) am in my hiding place on this blog. I’ve been thinking of writing something similar to your post since Michele has been so ill but did not want to open myself up to the unloving, nasty comments. You were very brave.

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posted April 1, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Great post, Michele. I am glad to have you back to blogging. Ultimately, someone’s politics are not the most important thing about them. You are a brave and honest lady, and I don’t always agree with your views (sometimes I disagree vociferously) but I respect your right to advance them here. Thank you for “putting yourself out there.”

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posted April 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I’m sorry, I just saw that Angela Arnold was guest-blogging here. My comments about Michele still stand, and thanks for your post, Angela.

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Robert Morwell

posted April 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm

While I gave up on your blog, because I felt too many or your posts were partisan in a way that did not reflect a Christian attitude towatd those with whom you disagreed, I did return to make a post when I saw a blurb on the B-net home page that you were experiencing a “rough week” because of your illness and the treatments it requires. I said at that time, that I would pray for you, and I continue to do so. (I came back to see if there were any updates on your condition.)
I have always been profoundly disgusted by those who have taken a hateful glee in your travails, and I still think that such posts are shameful. There is definitely cowardice involved too, since these people get to indulge in their self-righteous cruelty behind the cover of anonymity. Such behavior shows a lack of character.
At least, you put your name to your stuff…even though I must say that I have found some of it loveless and self-righteous, too.
Whatever your imperfections may be (and God knows, we all have them) I sincerely and genuinely wish you health and peace. May God be with you and your family.

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posted April 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Thank you for these beautiful words. It is a shame that the anonymity of the internet can change normal people into cruel beings- Doesn’t say much for humanity as a whole. Worse yet is most of the people posting are adults- I pity their children as such poor examples are being set. Despite differences in politics, religions, races, etc we are still ALL human and worthy of that respect. Imagine if a hospital worker treated people differently based on their religion, race, beliefs- no one would tolerte that. We should hold ourselves to a high standard and be accountable to ourselves, despite the anonymity of the internet.

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posted April 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Blessings to Michele and her family as they fight this horrible disease

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posted April 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I just happened to be browsing and saw Angela’s note about Michelle’s illness. Your political stance is not a factor on your human situation in facing this terrible illness. You will be in my prayers and it is my heartfelt hope that God will give you strength to endure and healing to recover. All good thoughts from a bleeding heart liberal……

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