How Can a Christian Exemplify Christ When Our World is Currently so Divided?
Evan Hewitt, Professor of Communication Arts
“My mom always said, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ I think if we all adopted this in regards to our social media posts it would go a long way. We all have to consider what we are saying and how we are saying it. Often, the comments made on social media are not moderated in the same way we would in an in-person conversation. The second thing we should all remember is that the news media makes their bones on controversy. The old adage of the news business is ‘if it bleeds it leads.’ This may be a way to attract viewers, but conflict for the sake of conflict rarely yields any results. Unfortunately, this tone set by the news media has been adopted by individuals. In all of this we have lost the art of civil discourse, disagreeing without accusations or name calling. Sometimes there is a lot of wisdom in just keeping your mouth shut. I believe there is a Bible verse about ‘throwing pearls before swine.’”
Anna Mangimela, Assistant Professor of Nursing
“The best answers I can give is to model humility, love, and wisdom, which is way easier said than done!
Sometimes it is better to ask questions and honestly listen to the answers than to give an opinion response. Remember that everyone has experienced this past year in a different perspective; some have been ill with COVID and recovered without difficulty, others have lost loved ones, some have been totally isolated for their safety, many have lost jobs and have decreased incomes, many have felt unsafe, and many are scared for the future. Just because someone has had a different experience than you, does not make their experience wrong. By listening, we can often capture a bigger picture of what is going on. Building relationships with people who are different than you in appearance, background, and political views opens your mind to possibilities beyond your personal understanding and enlarges your capacity to loves others.
Engage in conversation, not conflict. In recent months, I have had to choose not to engage in verbal sparring wars on social media or to walk away from conversations “agreeing to disagree,” or even to remain silent because I know speaking will only result in conflict. The relationship you have with people is more important than being right. However, these conversations have sparked questions and lead to deeper inquiry and understanding in my own life.
Another challenge would be to shut off the noise (news, social media, heated debates, etc.), as this usually elicits an emotional response, not necessarily a logical one. If you find, once you quieted yourself, that this is a subject you are very passionate about and have more questions, seek out facts from reliable sources. Utilize things like Ebscohost through the library and be sure any websites you visit have authors, dates, additional resources, limited side ads, and are not labeled an opinion piece. Read the entire article, not just the headlines!
Last but certainly not least, take time to pray. Pray for your interactions, relationship, church, leaders, our nation. But most importantly, ask God for a soft heart to admit when you have been wrong, apologize if needed, and be sensitive to His leading!”
Kyle White, VP for Student Development
“I’ve learned that my calling begins with my humility. I realized that I am not a subject matter expert on someone else’s experience and to pretend to be an expert cheapens our relationship. When I miss the mark with my neighbor, I learned that I could not put the burden of guilt on my neighbor’s shoulder by giving them the responsibility to make me feel better about how I treated them. Instead, I must put the burden of my actions on my shoulder and change.
I am to love my neighbors. This love is accomplished through action, not platitudes. It is not enough that I say I love you, but I must live every day with the overwhelming belief that there can be no real peace and joy in my life unless there are peace and joy in yours.
We live in this world as a family. Recently, I had a friend of color say to me, “We are not the same!” He was right. My answer within that moment of his vulnerability was, “We are not the same, but we have the same father. Since when have brothers needed to be twins to be family?” I don’t know how to fix a divided world, but I know at that moment my brother was in pain, and honestly, I needed him too. I don’t know how to fix a divided world, but moment by moment, I can be present with my family and learn, listen, and love.”
Wendel Weaver, Dean and Professor of Business
“It’s been my experience that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. So, if you want to be able to speak into people’s lives and have them really listen, work at connecting and caring.”
David Preston, Professor of Social Studies
“I like to tell students to pray often, seek the truth, and maintain perspective. When I was a young man in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we had rioting in the streets as students protested the Vietnam War, civil rights activists were jailed and often killed, and anarchists sought to level the institutions of government by storming the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. There were actual former Klansmen serving in the U.S. Senate, including my Senator, Al Gore, Sr. (D-TN). I was 11 years old and lived in Memphis when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and so I witnessed true civil unrest first-hand. A couple of hundred rioters at the Capitol and several thousand radicals in Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis, while lamentable, are nothing we haven’t seen before, endured, and overcome.
Just because the media and social media tell us we live in perilous times full of hate, we can’t accept their word for it. We need, first and foremost, to live our own lives to reflect the love and grace of Christ and reach out to others and truly listen to what they have to say. But don’t accept the conventional wisdom or the claims of the loudest disruptors. We need to do our own research, draw our own conclusions and put everything in perspective. When we arm ourselves with the love of God and the facts, we can bring healing to others and calm to those around us.
We can do what we can do in our own spheres of influence and, hopefully, offer perspective that will comfort those who are afraid.”
Jessica Johnson, Dean and Assistant Professor of Nursing
“In nursing we strive to me more than just a patient’s nurse, we push ourselves and students to be Kingdom Nurses. This is more than just caring for the basic needs of the patient, but focusing on the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. We care for patients of many walks and some we care for have done things we could never imagine. But a Kingdom Nurse looks past all of that and focuses on healing the patient, healing their body and their spirit. We are with our patients at the most vulnerable and lowest moments and it is in these times that we can show Christ to all those we encounter. We can show grace and mercy in how we care for each patient, we can show love in simple acts, and never underestimate the power of prayer. Many times, we get busy and try to complete all of our task on time but stopping for a moment to reach out to that patient or co-worker and ask how you can pray for them, can go a long way. But don’t stop there; pray with them. You will never know the impact that prayer can have on a person life.”