I have blogged now for the past 7 years. Originally my blog was done for a purpose. My congregation had gone through some very difficult times (sudden death of 2 previous ministers, a renovation project gone long, moving in with a neighbouring church as the renovation was being done- to name a few). The congregation could have easily slipped into a depression and could have felt that nothing would ever go right. So I decided to put a few words to pen each week where I would share some encouragement, share the truth, and hopefully inspire the congregation to move forward.
Our woes at that congregation did end happily. Our new building was constructed and we were able to move in three years later. Our congregation did find its purpose and was able to offer a vital ministry to that area of the city. Oh the congregation still had a few hurdles to climb. We had not achieved perfection in anyway. But we had survived these trials, and that was a success in itself. And with this success, this blog sort of morphed into my view of the world each week. I would offer my observations, my take on world events. I would do this in the hopes of maybe providing a glimpse of how our world could be a better place. And I would do so with a positive but realistic bent. My blog might at times question government policies and questionable comments made by others. However I do not hate anyone nor does it ever call us to hate anyone group. I hope all of my posts, each and every week, express this positive but realistic view of the world and encourage others to be the people they feel called to be.
In the past few years though, we have seen some individuals using social media as their forum to express hatred of individuals or groups. Take for instance Donald Trump. He has used the forum to attack political opponents or anyone else who opposes his agenda. From John McCain, Heide Klum, Barack Obama, North Korean President Kim Jong Un, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Meryl Streep, Rosie O'Donnell, Mexican President Nieto, Ellen DeGeneres, and Oprah Winfrey, Trump has used twitter to viciously attack anyone who stands in his way. Many times his statements use half truths and falsehoods in the attacks. And Trump seems to use no filters in his attacks. He lets all of his grievances hang right out there.
Very few politicians in the past would have been so blatant with their feelings. One exception is Pauline Hanson, who caused quite a stir the first time she was elected with her comments about Australia being taken over by Asians. Last year, she caused quite a stir by dressing in a full niqab while telling the senate that Sharia law was taking over here in Australia. Many question her motives. Is she utilising her right to free speech or is she, like Donald Trump, promoting hate speech?
In some ways the politicians, like Trump and Hanson, seem to have a bit of free reign to say what they feel. Political parties generally don't remove people from office for saying hateful things. The parties feel that these people have been elected and that the people will decide their fate the next time they go to the ballot box. I think that is wrong. Politicians are elected to serve all people not just people who support them. Politicians who vilify others should be removed from office for neglecting the needs of the whole community.
If the political parties are looking at ways they can remove leaders who promote hate, they do have an example from the television industry. Roseanne had a very successful television show that ran in the eighties and nineties. Much hoopla was made of the decision to bring the show back this year. The television networks, knowing that they have a dearth of shows on right now, are bringing back successful shows from the past (Will and Grace and Murphy Brown to name a few) in the hopes of attracting people back to network tv. The reboot of Roseanne was the number one show in the United States this past year. That was until today. Roseanne, always a controversial figure for her outspoken views, used twitter to go on a racist rampage that used false information to attack some opponents. The network was quick to act. They immediately ended production of the show even though it was the most popular show on the air. In just 280 characters or less, Roseanne torpedoed her career comeback. In this case I think the television network made the right decision. To allow the show to continue would be to condone Roseanne's controversial statements.
I am not advocating a world where people can easily get a politician recalled for upsetting some individuals. It makes a mockery of our political system. In such a system where recall is permitted, politicians become reluctant to touch controversial issues fearing for their careers. I am not advocating a world where people aren't free to express their opinions either. However there are limits. If you express an opinion which deliberately hurts others, which provokes, which promotes hatred, society has the right to say no, that is not who we are and we will not accept your statement. Maybe Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson might learn that lesson before they next time they face voters in an election. And maybe the purveyors of hate, like Roseanne, might realise that nothing gives you carte blanche to promote hatred. Blessings.