What happens when cancel culture comes to dinner?
Last post, we asked some questions about cancel culture. Perhaps it’s best to think about the ugliness of cancel culture played out around a kitchen table.
Imagine with me, that you are seated around a beautifully set dinner table with eight other people, a shared space where someone has prepared a place for you. As an invited guest, you are anticipating good food and conversation.
As you sit there quietly, it dawns on you that you are sharing a moment in time with others from other interesting but different backgrounds, perspectives, locations, and experiences, and beliefs.
You begin the meal, talking, engaging, family style. You pass the salad, the rolls, and then the bolognese sauce smothering a mound of homemade pasta only to have the guest next to you exclaim, “I can’t believe you passed me pasta with meat sauce! I don’t eat that stuff. I can’t believe how insensitive you are. Who does that? It’s completely bigoted to serve that to me! This shows your deep-seated privilege!”
You look at the other guests in amazement, horrified by the guests audacity and bad behavior.
That would be bad/weird/strange enough, but imagine it gets worse. Imagine he begins screaming at the host next accusing her of horrible motives, of knowing and serving offensive food. He begins insisting that others join in his outrage or also be shamed.
Imagine that the hostess tries to explain that her intentions were good, and the accusation does not represent her heart or motives. He begins hurling more accusations, calling her names. She tries to use reason and represent herself, but he doesn’t want an explanation. He is pushing a narrative that excludes reason. He doesn’t actually care about her, he only cares about himself. He IS what he is accusing her of, and he can’t see that. He is blinded by his own prejudice and anger.
Not willing to just walk away, he insists on instigating violence.
He convinces two other guests that what this woman did was immoral and they, too, start yelling and insisting you join in their outrage.
They demand change and get in your face. They bully to get you to react.
The host stammers, clearly rattled and shocked, but she’s never given a chance to communicate. And if she tried, would it matter? Do people filled with so much hate truly want to listen to hear and understand?
People whip out their phones and start recording and uploading, inviting others to join in the verbal assault online. Outrage, they’ve learned, changes things.
Though this is a fictitious and ridiculous story made even weirder around a kitchen table, these scenarios plays out every day on social media.
An unreasonable part of our society has come to believe that their outrage is enough to justify bullying others. They call for “justice” in perverted ways. (Bible is full of this.)
They hunt people down in their homes, call for violence in the streets, burn strangers businesses and harass people walking their animals. If people on your side of the aisle are doing this, you should begin clean up in your own house. YOU should change this if you love your neighbor as you claim to.
This shouldn’t have to be said in 2021 but one wrong (real or perceived) does not justify a second wrong. Bullying is nothing new, friends. History is full of it on every continent.
It is true that fury does move people… Don’t think so? Moms everywhere know that yelling gets things done: rooms cleaned, homework started, dinner dishes cleared… But is that what we want for our children and grandchildren in the broader culture?
What happens when the fury is misguided and unrelenting and is coming for you? Not worried? You should be because a mob is not a reasoning group.
Isn’t that when due process and law and order should prevail? Your rights shouldn’t be trampled because the fury says so?
Who will speak up for actual justice when you are villainized and targeted? Who will think of truth when anger roars so loudly that your voice is silenced?
We all cheer for women who “speak even if your voice shakes.” We clap for Jasmine in the new Aladdin movie who wont be silent, you can’t keep me quiet...I won’t go speechless.
But the truth is that in our world today, there are cultures where men, women, and political prisoners are kept silent and the culture around them fuels it. And we are becoming that culture.
I don’t want that culture for anyone.
Our first amendment protects the right of free speech that is unpopular, friends, and that’s what makes our country different from most in the world.
Be glad you can voice your dissent. Be glad your neighbors can speak their mind without fear.
Be wary of those who would use violence to silence others. The whole world is filled with such totalitarian nonsense.
Because you’ve read here before, you know that I believe that mothers and fathers are the ultimate culture shapers, and that our training grounds are our homes. What our children learn from us becomes the greatest culture changer.
So, we’ll be talking about dealing with conflict and anger in the next few posts. Instead of bullying people into acquiescence, how do we engage in love? How do we teach that because you believe one thing does not mean that I must give verbal assent to it? I can say you are absolutely wrong and that is not violence, but an exchange of ideas. How do we build tenacity into our kids so they choose to defend their ideas rather than choosing to be offended (which does and means nothing but promoting self-victimization which is a self-harm outlook.)
We’ll talk about how your worldview determines your morality.
We’ll talk about how the unsaved world needs to see something different from God’s people because cancelling others is the devilish response, the easy way out. Cancelling others means we don’t have to deal with the unreasonable and unloving. Cancel culture means the person bearing the biggest bludgeoning club wins. But we have been given the ministry of reconciliation because we who were once far off have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ.
And though being a Christian means that I can’t ever call evil good or agree that sinful behavior is not sinful, we can agree to disagree without being a jerk and tearing down another person. I can hold to God’s standards without apology and still be a loving person to my neighbor who disagrees with me. In fact, that’s what being salt and light is all about.
And I can stand up for those who are being silenced without apology, because wisdom looks ahead and perceives evil and turns to another way.