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In a world of vitriol, a breath of fresh air

We live in a world of ugly vitriol. We spew hatred online toward each other, and we seem hell-bent trying to top ourselves every day. Social media websites, who claim the purpose of their companies is to bring individuals and communities together, are the primary tool we use for tearing each other apart. Facebook and Twitter have become poison. Although we tend to personally deny that we are a part of the problem, a quick search through our own social media accounts probably would reveal otherwise. Sadly, we all contribute to the fast-moving poison.

So what brings out this poison, this vitriol and hatred? Simple. We have different opinions.

Apparently, having a different opinion is justification enough to warrant personal attacks, prejudiced generalizations, character assassinations, and wishes for harm to befall our opponents in order to teach them a lesson.

All because they have a different opinion than ours.

But in this climate of corporate and individual thought control and character assassination, I saw a brief, fresh moment of humanity recently.

Allie Stuckey is a political blogger. She is young and conservative—the nickname for her website is “The Conservative Millennial.” She is very active on social media and frequently appears on national cable networks. Her website states that she hopes to educate and inspire other conservative millennials.

So, doing what political bloggers and commentators do across the nation, she tweeted her opinion about something. In the context of the sexual assault epidemic that has darkened the United States in the last several months, Stuckey recently threw her two cents into the ring, tweeting: “The #metoo movement is a symptom of a broken world.”

As a fellow Christ-follower (she openly is), I don’t disagree with Stuckey’s statement. It is true: everything wrong in this broken world is ultimately because of sin. If there was no sin, there would be no World Vision, Eyes That See, or International Justice Mission. If there was no sin, there would be no #metoo movement. There was no sexual violence or lust in the Garden of Eden. Sin is what causes us to hate. Sin is what cause some men to objectify and treat women as sex objects.

Stuckey in no way meant to minimize the problem of sexual harassment, but rather to magnify the real evil that it is. I am a Christian, and I agree that this broken, sinful world needs Jesus.

And it needs Jesus badly.

That said, whether you agree or disagree with me—or particularly Allie Stuckey—is beside the point. Consider it right or wrong, it is nevertheless Allie’s opinion, her contribution to the discussion.

Then an individual responded to Stuckey’s tweet, an individual sitting on the board of the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) program at Georgetown University. This individual specifically addresses Stuckey, stating: “Wishing you a #metoo moment. Maybe then you won’t be so insensitive.”

In other words, I hope you get sexually assaulted or raped so you’ll learn your lesson.

An odd thing to wish upon a woman in the name of supporting sexually-harassed women.

Stuckey called this man out: “Hi @Georgetown — someone on your MSFS board just told me he hopes I get sexually harassed or assaulted. Is this the kind of standard your university holds for your advisors?”

Many in the Twitter universe also responded to this man for his unthinking remark. Afterward, the individual doubled down on his initial statement, earning further rebuke.

Then the exchange went viral.

Until the individual attacking Stuckey suddenly deactivated all his social media accounts. Something was clearly happening behind the scenes. Shortly thereafter, a Georgetown University dean issued a statement that said the department had asked for and accepted this advisor’s resignation from the board. Though Stuckey’s attacker had eventually apologized to her, the statement said it could not tolerate one of its board members wishing harm upon another person.

Shortly after this bit of news, reports began to surface that the man got fired from his regular job for these comments. His career is destroyed. His personal empire crumbled to the ground.

Good, my flesh cheered. Some elitist who could be that stupid to tweet such obnoxious garbage had it coming. Oh, such poetic justice!

Then this young millennial taught me, a Christian for longer than she’s been alive, a lesson I should have long since gotten.

Stuckey posted a blog on her website entitled, “I won, but I don’t feel triumphant,” where she shares her perspective of the exchange.

In her blog, she doesn’t gloat or take a victory lap. Instead, she looks within and checks her own motives. She wonders if she did the right thing. She writes, “I don’t know if I handled it the right way. When he initially made the comment and then subsequently defended himself, insisting that I deserved it, I felt no remorse. But to watch him crumble from the backlash and then see the real-life consequences unfold, I feel guilty.”

Even though her attacker arguably deserved what he got, he is still one for whom Jesus died. Rather than maintaining defiantly that she had every right to bring this man down, she seems to be seeking Jesus first. She acknowledges the struggle between justice and mercy raging inside of her: “I’m battling now what I’m sure many Christians have battled before. On the one hand, calling out people for clearly inappropriate harassment is good and necessary: it prevents them from targeting someone else. On the other, where does grace come in?”

No time for a smug victory dance. Instead, she falls on her face wondering if she did the right thing. To Stuckey, what matters most is not political victory, but where she stands in her relationship with Jesus. This kind of humility is what all Christians—conservative or progressive—should take with us into the world of political discourse.

No political cause is worth the destruction of another person.

The goal in today’s vitriolic climate is to have a hand in destroying the lives of political opponents. This is the badge of honor for political trolls. After all, the ill-conceived reasoning goes, if any opinion disagrees with mine it will surely hurt someone, so it must be silenced.

In this game of Twitter cat-and-mouse, Stuckey scored the cheese. She won the battle. The big ugly ogre got his comeuppance. In social media, it is so easy to spike the ball in the end zone and celebrate. It’s easy to smack-talk and jeer the loser of the political joust.

But Stuckey took the high road. While she acknowledged this guy probably got what he deserved (this wasn’t the only time he had tweeted things against conservative women), she didn’t gloat.

She didn’t celebrate his downfall.

She thought about the bigger picture–the one with Jesus as king.

And for me, in such a poisonous climate, that honesty—that humility and inner struggle—is a most welcome breath of fresh air.

Published inCultureCurrent EventsForgivenessGrace

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