by Kenneth Justice
~ I have a longstanding tradition here on The Culture Monk of criticizing the NEWS media for the out-of-kilter focus on gun shootings and murder. Too often the NEWS focuses on death that has nothing to do with our lives.
However, the shooting at the University of North Carolina yesterday is worthy of our attention. Ultimately, nobody can truly “know” the heart of the man who shot the three Muslims; was he simply and atheist filled with hatred against Islam, or did he really shoot these three people over an argument related to a parking spot, or did he have mental problems?
Only God knows the true inner workings of our heart (if you believe in God that is) but I believe this Chapel Hill story is important for each of us to take notice. You see, I have been in parking lots and witnessed firsthand the rise of emotions between people who argue over parking spots; a few times I couldn’t believe how angry people were getting and I remember thinking to myself, “Gosh, if these people were packing guns, there might be a Wild West gun shoot out”
I’ve also seen the hostility and vitriol that people demonstrate over religions they don’t agree with; I’ve been apart of discussions with Christians who hate Islam and Atheists who hate Islam (and all religions), and I’ve been frightened at how upset and raging mad that people become in the midst of their anti-religious sentiments.
I’ve never understood why Christians and Atheists who disagree with me on various articles I write, end up sending me nasty emails with “FUCK YOU” spewed throughout them. I’ve never understood why we can’t have intelligent conversations and honest dialogue regarding the things we disagree. Why do people have to get so riled up and take everything so personal?
The University of North Carolina is my alma mater, while that doesn’t give me any special insight into the situation; it does give me a personal connection to the school and my heart goes out to the people of the community, many of whom woke up to the shock and horror of what took place yesterday.
Every day since I was fifteen, I hang out at coffee shops and talk with people. From philosophy, to religion, to science, to whatever is on peoples minds. We chat, we disagree, we have great discussions, and many of the discussions we have had, ended up leading people to positive social action; some of the people who have sat in the coffee shop ended up becoming politicians, others changed their job to better their lives, still others left the conversations to go work with the homeless.
The heart of our conversations is centered around the dignity of humanity; as a Christian, I am prompted to love EVERYONE, and to give everyone an opportunity to share what is on their mind. I do NOT believe it’s my job to convert the world to Christianity; as the bible says,
“Pure and undefiled religion is to help the orphans and widows” and,
“The Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners”
As a Christian I care about the downtrodden, the prisoners, the brokenhearted, the people who society has flung to the side. As I sit here typing this morning, I wonder if this man who shot those Muslims could have been helped if the community around him had reached out and engaged him positive dialogue.
Am I being too idealistic? Is it too much for me to think that perhaps if we could teach people how to have constructive conversation that it would lessen their vitriol? Perhaps if we could demonstrate to people that positive dialogue can occur between people of differing ideological viewpoints.
Unfortunately, our society tends to divide people; we teach people to never talk about politics or religion. We teach people to mind their own business and not to stir up a hornets nest. Yet, I believe the way to change our culture for the better is to build bridges through positive dialogue; to relearn how to have stimulating conversations that go beyond the subject of popular music and video games.
Culture Monk TV is still in it’s infancy. The last two weeks has been a test run to work the kinks out of doing a live streaming show; but the heart of our intent is to demonstrate to people that we can have positive dialogue even when we disagree. To demonstrate that conversation, not war and vitriol, is the way to build bridges.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
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Categories: Culture & Society