In a cultural moment when conspiracy theories and revolutions are around the corner of almost every conceivable situation we face, where is reality? I’ve often felt that the truth is somewhere toward the middle of what the left and right publish and broadcast. Each side latches onto its own view and shares anything that affirms it or attacks an opposing perspective. How can we responsibly and helpfully engage when the rhetoric is so toxic that merely being informed seems debilitating? There are three aspects we can consider to find a better way forward.
Head and Heart
One of my favorite sci-fi characters said, “logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” That strikes a balance just right. We tend to either appeal to feelings while labeling those who disagree as heartless or rattle off our statistics and accuse dissenters of irrational emotionalism. What about walking the line between empathy and logic? What about taking the time to understand and feel, then respond? What about engaging with the head and the heart?
Symptoms and Causes
We often respond to the symptoms and ignore the causes of the issues we face. The causes are much more complex and difficult to tackle. We tend to think that the root of the problem is that others disagree with our position, but perhaps the underlying issue is that we’re unwilling to disagree without vilification. Perhaps, instead of drawing our battle lines, we should consider extending lines of communication on reconciliation and redemption. Maybe it is far wiser to stop the circular firing squads than to call for government-distributed band-aids in the aftermath.
Love and Truth
Love does not overlook a wrong. Love speaks the truth with relentless tenderness and unwavering loyalty. Our culture celebrates love and defines it as removing any obstacles to one’s own self-discovery and happiness, so long as it doesn’t harm another. However, true love is willing to risk it all, even offense, to present what would be of the greatest possible benefit to another.
The implications of love and truth require all parties, regardless of their worldview, to admit to their own exclusivity claims and biases. Yes, Christians believe that Christ is the only way. Yes, those who are not Christians believe that their perspective on religion is the only way. Genuine love demands that each party act in accordance with their convictions to pursue the highest good for the longest time toward others.
If one’s worldview affirms Christ as Lord, then there is a spiritual dynamic at play, which those of differing worldviews simply cannot understand. Presenting Christ, his Word, and his Gospel is not unloving. It is the greatest love which can only be understood when the recipient’s heart is gripped by the love of God in Christ.
A call to common sense is a call to think critically and love sacrificially. When we engage one another with the head and the heart, address the causes instead of the symptoms, and embrace genuine love and truth, then we are on the way to heeding that call.