Terrorists, Immigration, Refugees, Politics, Race and Starbucks! All have been in the news this last week and depending on who you talk to perspectives are varied and haired. Emotions are escalating as seen in the news and on social media.
Polarization is a danger that may eclipse all the above. According to Webster’s, “Polarization” is a noun po·lar·i·za·tion \ˌpō-lə-rə-ˈzā-shən\ and can mean:
1. (the) division into two opposites
2. (the) concentration about opposing extremes of groups or interests formerly ranged on a continuum
I have noticed that when I get into a “discussion” it becomes increasingly difficult to remain objective, open, and differentiated (Differentiation involves the ability to remain emotionally present, engaged and nonreactive in an emotionally charged situation, while simultaneously expressing one’s own goals, values, and principles. J. Wright, New Zealand Australian Journal of Family Therapy) What happens when I become polarized? I Stop Learning. What happens when I am NOT differentiated? I Stop Listening.
When I Stop Learning and Listening, I begin thinking, talking, and acting in an either or way instead of being open to both / and perspective. There are issues where God calls me to either or belief, but what I’m discovering is those things are few (The way to God- Jesus, How I live- like Jesus, Where I find truth- The God who revealed Himself in Scripture).
As a Christ-follower the issue of polarization presents an interesting dilemma. For instance, take the Syrian refuge issue. On the one hand I understand the issue of refuges needing a place to escape from death and destruction. The Bible talks about the need of being “open to the foreigner, to show compassion, and acceptance.” But on the other hand, I also understand the Biblical concept of being “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Having a willy, nilly approach to opening our boarders without any restraint doesn’t seem to be very wise. But is there an answer that isn’t choosing either extreme? There is and there are those who are immersed in this issue and have great insight on how to deal with the duality.
I believe there are threats we need to be vigilant about when it comes living in this world. But I also believe that if we continue down the polarization trail, the biggest threat maybe ourselves.
Just my thoughts,