To plug or not to plug

Posted: September 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

Just yesterday I sat in a discussion group of clergy from across our region and talk turned to the ways that being connected to news cycles either helps or hurts our emotional selves and leadership selves. And the unanimous conclusion was … Yes.

To be responsible and effective we need to stay connected to the world in order to speak a relevant word. But to remain spiritually centered we ought not allow our minds to be dominated by fleeting news of fleeting events. So as in most things, yes and no, plugged and not plugged.

More than a few of us shared times when we needed a real sabbatical from the 24/7 deluge of news and commentary.  And the challenge is more than raw accounting for the events of the day; commentary, biased commentary, carries with it a spirit of hostility that can be contagious.  Our circle shared stories of Facebook postings gone toxic.

And of course there is the posing of erroneous information as though real: “Oh, I’m not saying I really believe it or not, I’m just passing on what I’ve heard because it might be something to think about.” No, you are complicit in passing on lies and misinformation, that’s what. You are no better than the Russian cottage industry of misinformation. To do so is to participates in the ideology war, the war of ideas and the war of worldviews.

We can’t keep our wagon hitched to that communication star all the time. As in most of life, balance is the thing. Those deep philosophers and theologians who spun out wise council through the centuries spoke from a source that transcended the transient occurrences of the moment.  But they were also generally educated into human nature by being careful observers of the way humanity acts in the public sphere. Both of those things.

As for myself I do not want to allow the data dump to determine my state of mind day by day. At the same time I do not want to be ignorant of what real life is transpiring in my world. I will be more selective, however, and will shut down and even expose purveyors of clear distortion and lies. I will continue to seek understanding of the issues of the day by tuning in, but the answers to those thorny problems may actually be found elsewhere. Oh, yes, sometimes solutions will also appear with identification of the problems – the thoughtful expose, the careful research. But there is also the wisdom of the ages and the prompting of the Voice still whispering among us. To that, I believe, I will plug in first and also last.

  1. Kathy Moss says:

    I have found a balance of news-plugged and news-unplugged that is working for me these days. You offer a powerful reminder to connect, first and last, to the divine Voice. The part of your message that challenges me most is your testimony to “expose purveyors of clear distortion and lies.” It seems this might be a full-time job if one is to take that task seriously. How might one balance ‘exposing distortion’ with communicating truth when truth is complex (at best) and iterative/contextual (at worst)? How does one balance an appreciation for free speech protections guaranteed by the first amendment with the need to speak in defense of those who are most vulnerable among us? What is to come of the related hope for civil discourse when it is so frequently impossible or unlikely to promote meaningful change?

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