Just Be Nice
Accurately predicting the future is often a complicated venture; however, occasionally it is an easy endeavor. For example, over the last two weeks weather experts have warned us to get prepared for the coming monsoon season. Of course, they were right. It arrived a few hours ago. Trees down. Flash floods. Power outages. Minus the power outages, that has happened here in the desert every year since the beginning of time. In this instance the past record guaranteed the prophecy’s accuracy. The prediction was correct, and no one was surprised.
While we Arizonians were busy gawking skyward astounded that water does indeed fall from the sky, it was the first measurable rainfall recorded at Sky Harbor Airport in 119 days, and the president was in Washington announcing his nominee for the Supreme Court. Let’s play prophet. What will be the result from this confirmation process? Unless something unexpected surfaces, I assume Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed. I predict the process will be an ugly, nasty, and an expensive battle.
Both sides have been loading up for this debate since Justice Kennedy announced his intention to step down. Listen and you can already hear them presenting, no, shouting their arguments. The rallying calls to fight, battle, combat, contest, do whatever it takes to win. These are the “marching orders” from both sides. It has not always been this way.
Do you know that in the summer of 1986 the Senate Judiciary committee and then the full Senate debated Judge Antonin Scalia's nomination only briefly, confirming him on a vote of 98–0 on September 17, 1986? That was Scalia. Not one vote against him. Wait a minute, get this. Seven years later, August 3, 1993, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by the United States Senate with a 96 to 3 vote. That was Ginsburg. Only 3 no votes against her. Do you think either of these confirmation votes would have had those same results today? Not a chance.
These times are different. We live in a highly volatile and contentious atmosphere. This environment is dangerous. Today almost every human communication has the potential to morph into an antagonistic, belligerent contact. Disagreements can and frequently do escalate. Parents in fist fights at Little League games, flag football games, youth soccer matches. The scene is 2 adults, often parents (or even grandparents) of the players, standing at home plate nose to nose screaming at each other, or on the sidelines slugging it out. A spectacle on full display for other parents, family members, adults and sadly the kids to witness. A kid from one team can be heard shouting to a kid from the other team, “My grandpa can beat up your grandpa.” The opponent shouts back “That’s nothing, my grandma can beat up your grandpa.”
Altercations erupt over a vacant parking spot, a position in the checkout line at the grocery store. Mourners at a funeral challenge one another to “take it outside.” Churchgoers on Christmas Eve argue over the appropriateness of a Christmas tree in the sanctuary. NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, Soccer fans scream insults at someone who is guilty of nothing more than wearing the opposing team’s “gear.” Fans provoke one another at college and high school sporting events. Students taunt classmates. Shoppers routinely behave rudely toward fellow customers.
This is nuts. I’m weary of what seems to be the fighting, arguing, and bickering over everything. Life feels so pressure packed. Do you feel that way too? With the looming Senate hearing I fear Bachman-Turner Overdrive was right, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
If you didn’t sense all this before you opened my email by now you do. You could easily be overwhelmed by the current setting. I worry this is the “new normal.” Running away and hiding sounds like an attractive strategic plan. Circumstances feel out of control, or at least beyond your control. “What possible difference can you make?” Do you want to serve a role in reversing or slowing the downward spiral? Here is an answer. Being “salt and light” to your world is a good place to start. You won’t need to go searching for opportunities to change the tone of the discourse. The openings will come to you. I promise.
During the next few months as you interact with those in your sphere of influence determine to become a model of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
Just be nice.
“Talk” again soon.