08 September 2013

The Trebuchet... or, "When does disagreement become hate?"

I remember the first time I remember hearing the word trebuchet.

That happened when friends of ours introduced Tim and I to the computer game Age of Empires (many, many moons ago). I actually played for awhile and then realized it was too addicting for me... as, in fact, most computer games are... I get started playing and then forget that anything else in this world exists... and that doesn't work too well if you are a mama of eight.

When I did play, however, I liked using trebuchets. I could attack from a more or less safe distance and the personal carnage was far removed.

I saw, with my own eyes, a trebuchet (and the ammunition they slung) for the very first time while we were in Scotland. The makers had even done what they could to make the weapon look pretty.

Ever wonder why we try and make our weapons "pretty?"

Speaking of weapons?

It is easy to use words like a trebuchet ~ especially over the internet. First we dress them up and make them look pretty and fancy. Then we launch them from afar - uncensored, un-careful, even sometimes uncaring... the impact of those words, how they might rip through hearts, batter minds, hammer souls... discouraging and disheartening, and humiliating. The result is never seen, at least not up close and personal, by the launcher of said words. 

That's not how I want to use words.

It is also easy to overuse words so that their impact becomes less striking... such overuse of emphatic words a makes what was once powerful lose meaning and become superfluous... yada yada yada...

I think that has already happened to words like love... adore... awesome... ??? And, as is so easy to do, I'm as guilty as the next person. In recent years, I believe the word hate has been added to that list. You hear the expressions hate crimes and hate speech thrown around a lot. But what I really hear is crimes committed against someone who had a different value than I... speech directed towards someone who believes different than I do on a particular topic. When we reduce hate to meaning expressing our disagreement focused around a particular issue - than we reduce all people to haters.

It is a fact: we will disagree. I find it frustrating that legitimate disagreement and discussion with civility and gentility is the exception, rather than the norm. Another fact? Some disagreement is healthy and part of what makes our world a fascinating, interesting place. Instead, someone says something we don't like or does something contrary to our opinion of what is right and wrong. We holler back in protest, sometimes angrily, even. And then that someone attempts to silence us, to draw eyes away from the real issue at hand by labeling us and our perspective as hateful... or vice versa.  And who wants others to think them hateful? Who craves wearing that label? The tendency, then, is to become quiet and not engage an issue.

Sometimes that is the right choice... after all, love can covers a multitude of sins, and if we are flinging words from our tongue like a well-aimed trebuchet, intending to deflect, damage or destroy, we deeply need to allow the Holy Spirit to examine our motives.

Other times? Well, maybe we need to think about these words Jesus said, and graciously, gently, kindly, winsomely... but still firmly, continue so speak truth, sometimes painful truth, into a world that no longer wants to hear what it most needs to hear:
Blessed are you when men hate you and ostracize you, and cast insults at you and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. Luke 6:22, 23 

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