It has been a while since I have posted here! I am hoping to get back into posting so cross your fingers!
Recently, I have been thinking about a Wolfensberger idea regarding the prophetic presence of persons with disabilities. He talks about it in his writing a bit. I am working on expanding his idea.
I have a friend and colleague, Dr. Keith Walters, and we have become kind of political foils to each other. Our conversations are just the type that people should have with those with whom they don't completely agree. Our talks are deep, at times contentious, but always friendly and always fun. I am confident we have each influenced each other's thoughts through them (I think we would both like to think we have had a greater impact on the other, HAHA!).
In one of our conversations regarding the political climate, Keith said something to the effect of understanding the difference between allegiance to relationships vs. allegiance to ideas. Particularly from a Christian perspective, clearly we hold allegiance to our ideas, however, we don't jettison relationships over them. We are called to be in relationships with people who do not agree with our ideas. The plan is that perhaps through our winsome arguments, we can influence them.
However, in the context of disability, particularly intellectual disability, we see Keith's idea played out in their prophetic presence within the church and Christian community. Because of their intellectual disability, they may not have the bandwidth to engage in deep thinking about ideas. However, that causes them to be people who are relationship focused. Are you a democrat? I don't care. Are you a republican? I don't care. I just care about you. Our relationship is the most important thing.
As an older guy, I have friends who have lost contact with their children. Because of a relationship that has been broken in some way, they may not have spoken to a person for decades. I wonder if this might have been the issue there. Differences in thought about politics or religion or myriad other issues destroyed the relationship. I don't think as Christians and even just as people, we are called to that. This is what the cancel culture is about. The media teaches us, encourages us batters us with the idea that people with who whom we disagree are stupid or evil.
DON'T BUY THAT!
They really don't believe what they are selling and they are selling this. They get you to cancel relationships and then praise you for your intolerance. Both sides in the political debate get you worked up, almost addicted to their diatribe so you will be "hooked" on their position and keep coming back.
But back to individuals with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual disabilities. Their presence teaches us, in a prophetic way, to turn away from cancelling others because of their ideas and holding tight to your allegiance to relationships. It is a lesson we really need to learn from them today!
As concerning the Word of life, Luke 10 section 25-28 says: On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
Matthew 5 section 43-48 says: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
In Old Testament, the Jewish people and their ancestors were given the Law to observe. First, What Adam and Eve should observe was that they could not eat the fruits from the tree of wisdom. Then, their son Cain was told that he should not kill. As sins became increased, the laws were also added more. Up to the generation of Moses, the Law in Old Testament was given to Israelites. We know that the Law is good and the Law is used to punish people who commit sins, but people cannot obey the Law because the sinful spirits are in people. Even that we know stealing and giving false testimony are sinful, but greedy and pride spirits in us drive us to do sinful things. So as Old Testament prophesied we need to get rid of our sinful nature from our spirits.
Ezekiel 36 section 24-27 says: "'For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
The prophecies are fulfilled when Jesus begins to teach love. The two greatest commandments are " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Love is above the Law and if people have love they are free from the law of sin and death. People who are full of love will not think about stealing or giving false testimony but are merciful and they feed hungry people or give thirsty people something to drink or invite strangers in or clothe people who need clothes. The Law is for people who commit sins. Nobody will say that he will get reward because he does not steal before. But love is the grace we get. And with love we will get eternal life.
Romans 13 section 8-10 says: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
John 4 section 23-24 says: Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
I appreciate your thoughts on cancel culture. I have had the opportunity of having both professors in my current program and I think that really helped me while reading this and understanding the two points of view and dynamics that are occurring. Personally, I understand the issues raised with cancel culture and agree that this is something that is being sold by the media. However, there are instances where peoples actions should result in a reaction. I strongly believe that people use religion as a reason to back up their racists or unequal beliefs that the country was built upon. People have different beliefs and people should hear each other out about those. However, debating taxes and basic human rights are very different and should be treated as such. There are serious discrepancies between minority communities and non people of color. I think this debate has snowballed into all areas of life right now, and yes people with disabilities should be included in this because they have inequality and disadvantages that need to be fought for. I agree that cancel culture has gone too far, but at this point people are fighting for basic rights and isn't that the main problem?
I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about having political differences in relationships, cancel culture, and how it all ties in with disabilities. I agree with you completely. I believe it is important to prioritize relationships before political opinions. I wish this were the case nowadays, but things have only gotten worse. Cancel culture is a result of politics being prioritized over relationships. God has called us to love our neighbors and we are forgetting that the people we disagree with are people too. Truly, it is hard and scary to be on the opposing side nowadays. Most people my age are easily influenced by social media, celebrities, and the "popular" opinion. As a Hispanic woman, I feel people expect me to be on their side, but in reality that is not always the case. I think it is important that we learn from those with disabilities. We should be welcoming of each other’s differences and accept where these differences come from. We all have different backgrounds, opinions, and stories to tell. These are important conversations we should be having out in the open, but cannot do so because of cancel culture. Just to clarify, this does not mean we should accept racism, ableism, sexism etc. I think any person with good morals and a good conscious can agree that these are not okay. Today, people often bring these isms into conversations and claim them upon one side simply because they may not agree with their opinions. This is how cancel culture was created. People who have a different opinion from the “popular” opinion are getting cancelled. Imagine losing your job, your friends, possibly your family, and everything you have worked for just because you have a different opinion. In a perfect world, we would be having these challenging conversations with the people of opposing views to better our country instead of further splitting it up. This is why we should begin caring more about our relationships rather than our politics.
I am one of those who, at one point, was very much into cancelling people who did not have the same ideas as I do. When a celebrity would get called out for racist remarks and was cancelled, I applauded and was grateful that they were not getting praise any more. The more I delved into it, and the deeper my conversations with my husband became, I realized that it was not fair. People get cancelled now over mistakes made years ago when they were so much younger. They are not praised for the growth they have done. Often, they do not even get listened to when they try to apologize and are still shunned. I have seen friendships end and relationships fall apart because people cannot be ok with someone having a difference of opinion. My husband and I have been together for 21 years and I only recently discovered he was a part of the opposite political party. It shocked me, especially when he told me some of the candidates he had voted for. It was like I did not even know him. If I did not love him the way I do, I would have probably “cancelled” our relationship. I am so glad I have matured enough to realize that he and I can have a difference of opinion and it does not make either of us less than. I think it has strengthened our relationship to be able to have a civil debate. I wish the media would stop pushing cancel culture because, at the end of the day, we all have our own flaws, and we all make mistakes. The most important thing is what you do when you make mistakes.
I agree with the approach that we should hold allegiance to relationships before ideas. As a Libertarian, I have always said that I do not care what others choose to do with their life and free time, or even how they do it honestly, is their business, if it does not interfere or negatively affect others. The modern homage of “you do you”. I believe it is really sad that I do not like discussing tough issues with people because they have difficulty discussing ideas without taking the conversations personally. We are strengthened as a community from different and opposing ideas. We need to learn to embrace other’s points of view, not ostracize those who would be our greatest teachers. I have limited my time on social media since the pandemic and election, as everyone began taking such opposing sides, arguing, and even “canceling” family members for “big ideas” that ultimately should bring us closer together during this time of crisis rather than living in fear and tearing us apart. I appreciate the lessons we can learn from those individuals with disabilities that can provide a much-needed perspective, if only we would listen.
My relationship with cancel culture is tough. I do believe that the media takes it too far sometimes and cancels people based solely on rumors. Though I do not think that people should be cancelled for a silly difference of opinion such as “pineapple is the best topping on pizza” or “pineapple is the most heinous thing you could possibly put on a pizza”, I think that differences in values and morals warrants a separation in relationship. I have had many people close or partially close to me that I have disengaged relationships with because they are either racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, ableist, etc., and those are not the people I want to surround myself with. To me, these are not differences of opinion. These are differences in character and decency. The Bible says “love your neighbor”. This is in despite of any racial, gender, cultural, etc., differences, but many people use the Bible and their religion to back their discriminatory beliefs and that is what I do not agree with. Though, having conversations with those with differing opinions, whether it be politically or otherwise is extremely important. Trying to understand someone’s background or why someone thinks a certain way can give a lot of clarity. In regard to those with disabilities, it would be foolish to cancel someone because they are unable to have an in-depth conversation on a certain topic.
I agree with your opinion on media trying to persuade people or give a particular perspective only to see their view. The media is not benefitting people and negatively affecting people's relationships with others. I understand how people get more addicted to the media because every time you listen to what they tell you to do, people get prised by the media. However, this praise is false; it does not do any good for a person; it makes you think you are doing good. The media also try to stop some people's voices from trying to make a difference because they do not fit the media interest and are canceled. People need to be aware of this problem because, at this rate, more people will not understand the truth. People will become close-minded and not want to see different perspectives. The media affects social life, politics, and much more. For example, Fox News only covers Republican views while CNN has more Democratic views.
I agree that today's culture has shifted to push people against each other because of their ideas or beliefs. The concept of canceling each other gives people a false sense of justice. There is a winning feeling when someone who believes in something else gets canceled. But really, it’s just that some can't handle someone else having different ideas. It's so easy to just say “no” to someone without actually hearing their side of the story. I love the idea of being more relationship-focused. Using those with intellectual disabilities as an example is a prime way to put it. It does not matter that we might think differently or that we have different values. What matters is that we all need to love again.
Matthew 5:44 states, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”(NIV). We need to stop pushing each other down and start building each other up.
I agree that relationships trump (no pun intended) ideas, although the political climate is also eye opening that some relationships are better off letting go of. Having a mutual respect for one another is fundamental in a relationship. As a Christian I believe it is a sin to hold resentments towards another. We are commanded to love one another and encourage each other. So what do you do if the person in the relationship with you constantly brings out the worst in you? I think the benefit of your discussions with Dr. Walters is that you are believers. That creates a fundamental foundation that whatever is said and done is in the presence of the Lord, so we are held accountable to the Lord first and foremost. But if a person in relationship has no fundamental foundation of accountability to God and the other does, the conversation can cut very deep. Not just because of the sorrow it may bring to grieve the Lord but also because it can cause the humanity of the Christian to fail. A family relationship is even worse because the family member knows your past and your pain and struggles, but instead of compassion and respect for why you believe what you believe because of personal experiences, they just repeat the narrative of the media. I personally have had to walk away from a relationship because it got to the point where I was thinking of horrible things to retort back to her in response to her opinions toward me. Things like, "I don't think attending a Christian College is a good idea because it will be harder for you to get a job, it's not a respectable learning institution." My response was to laugh...I said "are you serious?" she said "yes". I was stunned at how out of touch she was. I said "Let me tell you the truth, employers like employees who are Christian because they know they can trust them because they answer to God, not just to man." This is the part where I have to check my heart, thoughts, and words because this is coming from a woman who hasn't held down a steady job in over a decade. But how can I be so cruel to bring that up to her (in my prideful kind of way) when I have prayed and cried out to God for Him to bless her with a job throughout all of the years? This is just a minor example of what has happened since she said that, years ago. I have decided the best thing for my life is to walk away but continue to pray for her. I walk away without resentment but with the hope that God can touch her because I am obviously not. I ponder our relationship throughout my life and all she has gone through and I wonder if it is the marijuana or alcohol that has created such a harsh heart towards me or the Howard Stern she listens to religiously every day. I think of how her mother took a medication while pregnant that resulted in a birth defect of a clef pallet and she is not able to have children either, possibly related to the medication her mother took, I am not sure. I ponder, maybe she has a mental illness that inhibits for her to think of anyone but herself and what her opinion is. I don't want to not have her in my life because I don't have much family, but this last year it has gotten so ugly I have decided I no longer want her in my life. I hope one day we can possibly have a relationship again but for now I just feel like she's toxic and I'm too old for that. I just want peace in my life, not for someone to bring out the worst in me and make me feel like I have to defend myself for my choices and convictions. I would love to have a conversation with her about our ideals, beliefs, and philosophies but I can only do that if we have a common respect for one another and I just don't think we do.
I very much enjoyed this post on your blog and was pleased to see how thoughtfully you were able to discuss your distaste of modern cancel culture. It is something that I have examined myself and have taken the time to put profound thought into how bizarre our current political climate and culture are. Past the days we are of accepting diverse thought and opinion, we now seemed more divided and put into groups than ever. One cannot publically express how they feel in fear of being attacked or even being fired from a job. I wonder how long this will last or if it will be the new norm. I also love how you related it to people with disabilities. We should all instead not judge people for what they are capable of and believe, and instead should just look at them as people and who they are. It really seems that we truly cannot be ourselves anymore or cannot express views if it is outside of the "mainstream". Even our freedom of speech is being taken away as certain thoughts or ideas are even banned from the biggest social media sites in the world. As time passes by we have become less free in this country and it all seems to be under the disguise of "betterment of the people".
This is a very unique and, in this climate, necessary perspective. Our drive and purpose as Christians should be to love other in spite of different beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, or disabilities. Especially in relation to political parties, many people tend to associate one political party with Christianity and others with a secular way of life. This creates an unnecessary divide between people when in reality, we are all trying to come up with the best solutions to better society. Cancel culture perpetuates this idea of secular vs. religious in the same way it promotes labeling each other right or wrong. It is not our job to decide what others should or shouldn't be doing; our job is to spread the love of God to everyone from any walk of life. We are prone to segregate ourselves based on societal labels promoted by media, rather than focusing on integrating all of our efforts to better our society. Beliefs are encouraged by experiencing diversity, and can only be grown through being pressed and challenged. If everyone constantly pushes away anyone with differing views, we can never grow intellectually.
This blog post opened a new perspective for me as I am vey much familiar with the works of the media and the intolerance of disagreement. The cancel culture is simply the incapability to agree to disagree and as a person who has allegiance to relationships over my allegiance to my ideas, I believe a middle ground should always be in place when arguing separate opinions/ideas. Knowledge is power and without collaboration this world would not develop meaning both ideas and relationships must work in unison.
This piece really hit home as I have lost all but one friend to politics over the last few years. There is something terribly wrong with the mindset that allows a 20+ year friendship to be thrown away over trivial stances about politics. We can definitely learn a lot from those that are able to turn completely away from the allegiance to ideas and embrace people that they are in a relationship with. The friend I do have left is someone who doesn’t engage in political discussion, or any talk beyond our hobbies at all which is something that I love. I would also however love to be challenged by a friend in the way that you and Dr. Walters do to each other. In my life there is no challenge from those who had disagreed, they have simply been conditioned to think that I am a bad person because I do not see the world through their lens.
The bolstering of intolerance from the media is something that is unnerving in today’s world as well. I do not quite understand how easily people can be so intolerant of those they oppose while claiming that they are tolerant for their views on certain matters. If we could just talk, and not aim for each other’s throats while doing so, perhaps we would learn something from one another. But until the trend of cancelling ends, I feel many more families, friends, and colleagues will part ways over increasingly trivial matters simply because their allegiance to their ideas transcends their allegiance to those who are or at least were at one time very close to them.
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