I honestly thought I’d earn some points with people coming to the defense of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Justin Bieber and all of motherhood. Well, I knew I was pushing the envelop with the Biebs, but even so, I didn’t expect the accusation of being mean.
- I gave my best effort to debunk conspiracy theories against Mother Teresa. I didn’t start the argument, mind you. I just responded to someone who felt the need to correct my wife’s very kind Mother Teresa quote on her Facebook wall.
- On Martin Luther King Day, I shared my favorite MLK quote. I was jumped on for supporting a man who — supposedly — flirted with women and Communists.
- I stuck up for Justin Bieber. Actually, I was hard on fellow Christians who find it their duty to hate and judge public figures. It was a cultural analysis of how we’re “wrecking” our youth.
- I rebutted an article that attacked motherhood. Members from the Child Free community pounced on me for rebutting an article that called motherhood “stupid” and “unimportant.”
I think I did a pretty good job of exposing myths, respecting history, giving the benefit of doubt, and addressing flawed ideologies — rather than personalities. I find all these subjects a bit fascinating, and the discussion that ensued were engaging and enlightening. It was above board and fair, right?
Some didn’t think so. They accused me of being mean.
To them, my blogging was strong and unloving, I should consider my audience and how they may respond, I should be gentler and kinder, more like Christ. Are you one who thinks I’m being mean? Help me reason through this, please.
I’m not being facetious. I don’t want to be mean to people. I love people, even when they disagree with me. I like to think that’s a peaceful and loving way to live.
I’m not perfect, and I never claimed to be. I got hot under the collar at some of the exchanges, especially the ones attacking dead people like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Junior. I confess, I edited out the “mean” parts in my first drafts. So I’m scratching my head thinking how am I wrong here?
For a moment, weigh this criticism with my post on Mother Teresa. I come to the defense of a deceased nun who dedicated her life to feed the world’s most destitute poor, whose order of nuns are still at work wasting much of their time debunking the myths rather than continuing the work of their founder, and I’m the bad guy for it?
And these guys weren’t very nice about telling me I wasn’t being nice. Here’s a sampling of the responses I received:
I think there is a need for a more loving approach towards Christians who you believe are in the wrong.
You made judgements on motive, heart, and intent based on FB posts. This isn’t only wrong, it’s hypocrisy.
Your behavior throughout this entire fiasco profoundly saddens me.
In my humble opinion, your treatment of this lady and her husband [the original posters who claimed Mother Teresa was a heretic] has been far worse than their treatment of Mother Teresa.
Honestly, how should I respond? Should I stop writing altogether, maybe spend the time personally responding to each of these people in more loving, personal, Christlike ways (because Jesus never challenged people publicly)? Never mind that these quotes were posted on this site or my Facebook wall for all my friends to see. I should just shut up and admit that I’m a big fat meanie.
Sorry. Now I am being facetious.
This “you’re being mean” argument should stop. I’m not being mean. I hold no ill will whatsoever toward people who disagree with things I write. I actually enjoy the challenge. In fact, I read virtually all of the feedback I get, and I seriously grapple with intelligent and thought-provoking responses. Isn’t debate and discourse part of a healthy, peaceful world? I think so.
I’m a wordsmith and a thinker, someone who goes through great pains to choose just the right wording — not to be mean, but to make sure I hit the truth as accurately and persuasively as possible.
There is a lot of crap out there claiming outlandish things, and I enjoy working through thoughts and ideas to sometimes come out with persuasive rebuttals. I hope people walk away from my blog posts challenged and thoughtful of others. Public arguments can be wholesome and enlightening, but only if we let go of this idea that we’re being mean for disagreeing.
Logicians call the “you’re being mean” stance ad hominem. I was challenging conspiracy theories, media hype and ideologies. I wasn’t attacking personalities of the people making the arguments. They had every opportunity to challenge and engage, which I actually love to do, but some can’t get past the ad hominem.
Actually, it avoids the discussion at hand. It’s beside the point.
This is what “ad hominem” means: to the man. It avoids the real argument being considered and turns the attack on the person making it.
I invite you to stick with me and be my friend, but stop telling me that I’m being mean when I write something challenging thoughts or ideas. This response, I believe, is a veiled attempt to avoid the more difficult challenge to think, and is — very arguably — mean.