Today I am going to quote two prophets: Isaiah and Habakkuk. You’ve maybe never heard of the last one, but he’s cool, even if he had a funny name.
But first, the social context. I’m not going to use the word, unpreciden… Instead let’s just agree these are stressful times, at least in some ways.
One way for me is that I’ve decided that until the political climate settles down, if it ever does, I will not have conversations with some folks on that topic. That’s a sacrifice as I love political chat over coffee, but not now. It feels impossible to have a friendly discussion anymore as tempers flare so easily, even with friends.
I saw a small snippet of “The Social Dilemma”. It’s a warning about how we are being manipulated and sold as cannon fodder by the owners of social media sites. The author presented a case that we are intentionally being addicted to rage, among other emotions because that keeps us engaged and makes us vulnerable to manipulation and being sold to advertisers. That’s right, being sold by the case load. In a time of pandemic we are so much more vulnerable and already under stress.
Volumes of data about you and me is collected and sold, and one step farther along is the idea that we’re fed exactly the kind of “stir-em-up” narrative that keeps our emotions frayed. And it's tailor-made to suit your preferences. The simple reason is that a calm mind is far less easily manipulated. What this means is that you are well enough known that social media knows what kind of news feeds to send your way to keep you clicking and fuming. And don’t forget some of the shadowy players on the fringes. They know what they’re doing.
So, what can you do? Enter Isaiah.
I was reading this passage from Isaiah just this morning. It’s found in the eighth chapter, verse twelve and following.
“Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,”
Good words in any age. Funny how relevant those old guys were. It’s an old technique. You want to stampede people, then scare them. Isaiah says, “don’t fall for it.” Remember that it’s the Lord God who is in charge. When you feel that the world is going over the edge, keep your mind clear. In Isaiah’s time, there was a rumor that Assyria was coming to wipe out Jerusalem. God through Isaiah said, “nope, not going to happen.” Stay calm.
Now how about Habakkuk! I know, who isn’t eager to know what he had to say? Again, its from many ages ago, but as relevant as today’s news. What he said essentially is that even if you think you’re stuck or might get stuck with a demon from hell as head of government, have faith. Evil people sow the seeds of their own destruction. It may not be instant justice, so in the meantime, have faith, God is still in charge. Be patient and keep doing what you should be doing.
Don’t let the times we live in drive you over the edge, and don’t be stampeded either. The folks sending you those news feeds may not have your best interests at heart. Be calm and keep doing the right thing.