I have a love/hate relationship with social media. In fact the only real social media I currently use is Facebook. I have an account on Linkedin but…I am very rarely on it. I do not tweet, or twitter, or Snapchat or anything else. I also refuse to take selfies. Mainly because I tried it once and realized it was not a good idea. For most, in this thoroughly modern world we live, I would be considered rather quaint. A nice way to say I am out of sync with the rest of the world. I am not in bad company however. I know several people who have deleted all social media accounts and they are all waaaaay younger than I am. I know people my age that have had it with the vitriol they are exposed to on social media, and I know people who never engaged social media to begin with – but they also don’t have a cell phone either. There are days I think they are the smart ones among us!
But as to my personal love/hate relationship…I love being able to stay connected to family and friends who do not live near me. I love seeing the pictures they post and the wonderful events and adventures going on in their lives. While I don’t love seeing the shared posts when difficulties arise, I do love being able to pray and send my well wishes to them. It keeps me in contact with my family and friends in a small way. I hate (maybe too strong a word but…) the new algorithm Facebook has established that only allows me to see a fraction of the people I know and care about. I hate that the powers in charge at Facebook think they know who I should interact with better than I do. I hate seeing commercials. I hate political posts. I hate when people troll. I don’t like Facebook’s version of chain mail. I really don’t like the way social media gives us the idea we are deeply connected when in reality we are not. Facebook helps us stay in contact but in order to be connected we need to find ways and places to be face to face.
In fact, the best way to be connected to others is over a shared meal. When we come to the table we are gathered together for food and fellowship. Around the table we have the opportunity to learn about one another – each person’s likes and dislikes, our successes and our failures. I believe, when we gather around the table for a common meal, we have the opportunity to learn how to communicate once again. We can learn that we can like people we don’t agree with or even vote in the same way. (I know, scandalous idea) But…the thing is, we can like people who are different, who think and act different, who allow us to ponder those differences and talk about them. When we come to the table and gather together we can share our life, our experiences and our highs and lows. When we come to the table, we can begin to understand each other. And when we understand the other person, we begin to have compassion for them. We may even realize we are more alike than different.
So for today, I will leave you with a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. It was originally entitled “Judge Softly” but you may know it or at least the final line better as:
“Walk a Mile in His Moccasians.”
Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.
There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.
Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.
Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.
For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.
Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.
Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.
Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.