This past year, I have been reminded about the many tensions and conflicts in our society. We are a divided nation—racially, religiously, and politically.
Social Media Activism
I love social media, but sometimes the intensity of people’s posts frustrates me. Even when I agree with someone’s point of view, I think to myself, “that post isn’t going to change anything.” It may get a bunch of “likes” from the people who agree with the opinion already. But the post is so insensitive to the other point of view that the likelihood of “the other” reading and taking their points into consideration is very small. The post is more likely to incite anger or defensiveness.
Different Roles to Play
I was discussing my frustrations with a friend recently, and I realized that people have different roles to play in promoting love and justice in our society.
On one hand, you have the prophets. Historically in religious traditions, a prophet was an individual who claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural and speak for them, delivering new knowledge to the people. Today, we might think of prophets as advocates who take a strong stand for a particular issue in our society and won’t budge. Prophets don’t usually make a lot of friends with the general population, because they are critical of the status quo. They demand change, and people don’t like that.
On the other hand, you have the peacemakers. Peacemakers work to bring two sides together and settle disputes. They encourage humility and openness to change on both sides. They try to find a middle ground or compromise. Peacemaking is hard work too, because people don’t like to consider a different perspective. They would rather stay where they are, surrounded by people who believe the same things and reinforce their positions.
We Need Both
We need both prophets and peacemakers in our society. I see myself as more of a peacemaker, and that is probably why I have a negative reaction to intense social media posts that don’t seem to honor the other side’s point of view. As a peacemaker, the lesson for me is that prophets are needed also. There are times when it is necessary to make a strong stand for something just because it is the right thing to do. On the other hand, if you find yourself more often in the role of prophet, perhaps the lesson for you is to recognize that sometimes there is a need to be humble and empathize with the other side, no matter how bad the perspective may seem to you.
Do you consider yourself more a prophet or a peacemaker? Can you fully step into your role while also recognizing others may have a different role to play?