We live in a world where we can debate, disagree, and become polarized on almost anything. And it is not even about if the things on this list or any list is really important to us. It is about how we treat each other, when we disagree, in both big and small stuff.
“Reach out and touch someone” was a famous AT&T slogan in the 70-80’s, when I was growing up; promoting long distance phone calls as a method of being emotionally tactile with people too far removed, geographically, to be physically tactile with in everyday life. The idea was that, through words, we could connect with each other in ways and spaces that might not be in person. The promise was that distance no longer mattered with telecommunication. Well fast forward 30-40 years, and we have taken all of this to more than the next level. Texting, The Internet, Social Media, not to mention Skype and Facetime and so many more apps have almost realized the promise of long-distance intimacy, relationship, and attachment, more than we could ever dream. Therefore, we should be closer, more bonded, and more unified than ever as a people. Right?
Tactile Intolerance reaches out and touches us, every day. I call it “tactile” because it is about making contact, connecting, even hitting each other with conflict. It is about touching people with the anger of an idea, not just with the literal touch. It is the violence of words and the savage brutality of self-promoted ego-ideas. It is more than disagreement; it is more than even clashing worldviews and ideology. It is mean selfishness, and pride-driven positioning, which is one of the downside by-products of this information age.
In an age when anyone can Google anything, and no one needs to even barely read a full book, let alone, get a degree in a subject to consider themselves an expert on anything, everyone has an opinion and are most “certain” they are right! And when you dare disagree with the brilliancy of their ability to randomly Google things, they will begin to flood you with links, websites, studies, and search results out- the- wazoo and eagerly await for your response with your out- the- wazoo Google results so they can send their next wave of their out- the- wazoo Google results. And soon we have two people with, possibly, almost no idea of what they are talking about, entrenched in views they rarely even really understand with any depth, insisting they are experts and that other person is just an “idiot,” “fool,” “stupid,” or my favorite, “just in denial.” And the conclusion is; intolerance breeds intolerance bathed in the ignorance of over saturation of free information. It is shameful, and a dishonest disinterest in “the truth,” because they already have “their truth,” and Google on their side. There is ZERO critical thinking going on! And worst yet, rage will be targeted at those who try to exercise it.
The information age is great, and the ability to fact check anything on the fly essential in this modern world we live in. But the ability to “Google” does not make you an expert on anything. What it does is give you a connection to reasoning done by others who may (or may not) be experts. In a world of alternate facts, you can find a link out there to support any demented idea you have. Use reputable sources, think critically, and for “Pete’s sake” maybe don’t formulate a hard position until you have actually read a full book or more on a key idea. I have literally watched “Joe Nobodies”, who have no educational background in law, argue with accomplished constitutional lawyers about the meaning of very fine and nuanced points about the 1st and 2nd Amendment to the constitution and declare the other side stupid, ignorant, fools simply because they did not agree with them!
Face it! We live in a world, where everyone is right in their own eyes, and they think they have instant access to proof that their eyes are the only eyes that matters. Face it; you are part of the “everybody” of this world who does this, and so am I. We all are! It is time to break our addiction to ego, and intolerance, and snap certainty, and start to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord and listen to each other. If the world wants to behave like prideful fools, that is on them, but when the Church and Christians want to behave like that sadly, that’s on Christ. If we, of all people, demean “truth” with “my truth,” we demean Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Moreover, there is no place for intolerance in love;
“Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Is your desire to be “right” aka, intolerant, really more important to you than Christ’s command to love one another? And if you can’t truly love a brother who sees abortion issue, or 2nd amendment issue, or immigration issue differently than you, why, then, should the “Heathen” ever believe you would, or could love, them, when they are not even your brother? In a world where tactile intolerance is taking over the ideal of Christ, it is getting harder and harder for people of faith to practice Biblical love. Yet, Jesus declared, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
“Reach Out And Touch Someone,” was the original tactile tech promise.
Maybe, I am only asking the question; Maybe, our ingrained sense of “rightness” and intolerance with anyone who dares see things differently, is simply a sign, we either don’t belong to Jesus at all, anymore, or our connection is dimming.What do you think? Maybe, it is time, you practice the spiritual disciplines of AT&T and reach out and touch someone again, and that someone is Jesus.
Look, this is a problem for all of us. It is not a “you” or “me” problem. It is a cultural shift problem! However, people of faith, often are called to be counter-culture. I pray, I just pray, all the time, that my ego will stay buried in the icy water of Romans 6 and my old ways give way and let the compassionate, understanding, loving, life of Jesus roar free in me and all my communications. Often, way too often, I, too, fail. But I seek a life where I care enough about the people whom Jesus loves, to LISTEN to them, to try to hear them, and even understand things I wholeheartedly disagree with. I want that in me! May Jesus place a heart of fairness, curiosity, creativity, and gentleness that, also at the same time, has enough “teeth” to snatch people from the fire! We don’t need to be a lame duck, but we also can’t be a quack of a Christian. We, too, can roar like a lion, as long as the lion is The Lion of Judea who commands we love with our roar!
Sometimes, some people, some issues, just won’t let you remain open for long but even when we have to close a door, let’s seek to do it with dignity for self, others, and God. I leave you with the great words of wisdom of the Apostle Paul on this matter;
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Reach Out and Touch Someone 70’s commercials.
 Ok I included that last one for my editor, Vicki’s, sake. There really is no debate! Dogs win hands down! (Ed.note: Believe me, she was about to edit it “differently.” Cats. No debate.)
 I don’t mean “Nobody” as a value statement, only in regards to their qualifications.