No doubt, somewhere within your world you are on a metaphorical team. It is your team. The players are all familiar – one of them is also you. The members of your team are all gunning for the same outcome – which to win in some way shape or form! It is Us versus Them – well, you have heard me rant about that before. Most sports teams have cheerleaders. Quite typically representing the outwardly attractive looking of the human species (male as well as female) that bounce, shout and perform their way into our hearts and groins cajoling support for “our” team. But why do I need to watch cheerleaders perform when the Boston Bruins or Manchester United already have my firm and devoted backing? Or put another way – why preach to the converted?
I used to subscribe to a particular newspaper here in Toronto because it ardently spoke to my political issues. This piece of journalism not only had more news items that warmed my heart and spoke to my spirit, but the content of it’s editorial page I found to be rarely contentious (to my way of thinking) and the letters to the editor were populated by opinions I enjoyed (interpret as supported) written by a regular cadre of faithful and devoted letter writers. I would rather read what felt good, seek out comments of those who thought like me and rant to others about “them” to other members of my team.
The difficulty I had with this is as follows: Was I growing or learning anything from that insulated experience? And what if I was wrong in some way? If so was I fortifying a perspective that was without challenge or reproach?
I am often bemused when on social media, individuals will quite graphically bring to the unrequited attention of their “friends” or “followers” articles, memes and the like highlighting and supporting with irrefutable evidence the justification of the correctness of their side – the “us” side. This is akin to convincing me of liking the Boston Bruins. Ya – I already do – so what is your point?
My point here has nothing to do with an allegiance to a sports team. And a cheerleader is an innocuous and trifling analogy on my part. I am talking about substance, the likes of which that helped to create a man like Martin Luther King Jr. MLK’s messages were the outright antithesis of “preaching to the converted”. He preached to those who were down so that they may rise. He preached to those who needed to hear who were deaf to the truth. He preached to those who were resistant to changing the way things were. Martin Luther King Jr. never preached to the converted. His was a mission of a cultural inflection point and it was wretchedly cut short. His unfinished mission must continue. It is desperately needed today.
So what is our point of “preaching to the converted” over and over again? Some positions are so relatively extreme that any friends of opposing viewpoints have either already unfriended you or you them. I personally know of this only too well. Therefore who is left on our “friend” list are those with your same intolerant and intractable viewpoints. And whom then are you trying to convince? Yourself perhaps? Against a wave of bitterness it is “us” who cling to the past. It is “us” who need to convince ourselves that our position is good and right. I do believe that it is not Us vs Them – it is after all Us vs Us …
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” MLK