Prairie View

Saturday, September 05, 2020

A Private Message Gone Public

What follows here (after the first set of asterisks) was written several weeks ago with a specific audience in mind.  I had made a list of people to whom I wished to send the message privately.  Please note that the list of names was not as long as the list of individuals who commented on a recent Facebook post of mine that garnered over 100 comments.  I especially wish to make clear that I do not consider everyone who raises questions about something I believe, or suggests a viewpoint at variance with mine to be a "troll" or even a detractor.  Those who appeared on the list are people who don't seem to be interested generally in what I'm thinking.  I suspect, for example, that they usually do not read this blog, where I tend to reveal more such things than happens on Facebook.  

I have not sent this to any individuals so far, mostly because the logistics of it seemed onerous to me.  Posting it here will simplify the logistics if I ever decide to follow through on sending it as a private message.

Also, I have a small measure of hope that a message like this sent to a general audience might convey to individuals what is needed with a less "in their face" method than would be entailed in a private message.  I would be very pleased if the overall effect of posting this message here would improve the level of discourse on social media.  I believe that some people simply don't recognize what consitutes rudeness on such a platform. I know this has involved a learning curve for all of us, me included.  

This is how I see things now.  In general, what you post on your own wall is " your business."  What you post as a comment or an emoji in opposition to what someone else has posted is much less "your business" and should be done with a great deal of consideration and forethought and commitment to kindness. The one time when "your business" crosses over into rude behavior is when you tag someone on your wall or in your comment that scolds or belittles the viewpoint of someone who is not involved in the conversation and presumably is not aligned with the content in the OP.  That's "name-calling," and that's not polite.  

Not reading what is contained in the original post before commenting is rude also.  Commenting without having followed the thread is another no-no.  Besides "outing" your own rudeness, it falls on others to do the work that you're apparently not willing to do--hearing what other people are saying and tying loose ends together and keeping the conversation from bogging down in time-wasting repetition. 

Please bear with me in the awkwardness of posting below a message that was written for a different format.   


As you can tell, I’m choosing the “private message” route to communicate with you.  Because I want to say more than fits well into one long message, I will send the message in several installments. The parts will be numbered so that you can read them in the intended sequence.  

1.  I’ve noticed that you seem to have more in common with people who disagree with me than those who do agree with me–on certain topics at least.  I see it by your comments and your choice of emojis.  I’m going to suggest that it might be better for our relationship if you would consider unfollowing me.  This would shield you from my “objectionable” thoughts, but we could still send each other private messages or even stop by on each others’ pages occasionally to see what’s going on–so we wouldn’t lose contact entirely.  I recall pleasant interactions with you in the past, and would like to keep my fresh memories pleasant as well, but I’m finding some recent interactions unproductive, energy-draining, or hurtful. 

In any case, you are still welcome to send me private FB messages or emails ( to discuss anything you would like.  Also, if you wish to know more about where I’m coming from, you’ll find it at my blog  You can comment there as well.  

Whatever you wish to tell the world can still be freely done on your own Facebook wall–where I will not harass you.  If you have more to say than fits into a Facebook post or comment, you also have the option of starting your own blog.  It’s free.  Talking to me directly might also be an option. 


2.  Please understand that I want nothing more than to follow Christ faithfully.  I certainly do that imperfectly, but that is my desire.  When I say something about circumstances in our world, I believe I am doing so in accordance with what is true and right and is in obedience to what the Lord is asking of me.  While in some sense it is my personal choice, in another sense it feels like I am actually compelled to do so by a will that is not my own.  Sometimes I’m more aware of this than at other times, but always there is an underlying commitment to be faithful to “speak that which I have seen and heard” in the context of seeking the Lord and trying to see things as He does. Being “honest and kind” is what I strive for in my writing. I also strive for “clarity, economy, and grace.” The composition textbook I taught from for many years used these words to describe good writing.  We both know, of course, that I sometimes fall short of these aims.

I don’t mean to say that my way of seeing and doing things is the only true and right way.  I want to change immediately if the Lord shows me a better way than what I’m following now.  Sometimes that awareness will come through other people–which is why I wish to preserve a line of communication between us. I’m balancing this desire with something else though–the need for healthy boundaries–for reasons that I’m sure you’re familiar with.  Hence this message to you.


3.  I want to address one more thing that I think I may never have stated on Facebook.  I do not vote and do not encourage others to vote.  Never have; don’t plan to start now. Admittedly, the matter of voting is possibly a narrow slice of “being political”–or not (a descriptor that has sometimes been applied to me), but it explains why I want to push back when I experience this accusation.  To extend the explanation a bit–because I don’t sing the praises of Donald Trump does not, in fact, mean that I will sing the praises of Joe Biden instead.  Because I don’t appreciate the lies of Trump doesn’t mean that I love every word of Biden’s.  Please don’t assign beliefs or loyalties or labels to me that I do not embrace.  You need never fear that I will vote against your favorite political candidate.  If you fear my prayers, you'll need to take that up with the object of my prayers.

I don’t know exactly what your definition of “being political” is, but I encourage you to explore this, and then to see whether you yourself are political or not. I urge you to go one step further and ask the Lord whether “whatever you are” is what He wants you to be.   The necessary final step, of course, is to make whatever changes the Lord prompts you to make–either in your thoughts or actions. 

I will in this private communication go one step further and urge you to consider not voting.  I believe that this single act has the potential for clarifying one’s thinking a great deal.  Besides this, I believe it will lift a burden that you may not have been meant to carry–the burden of making the RIGHT decision in your voting.  Resolving to exert your influence on your knees and leaving the outcome in the hand of an almighty God is really a good option–just as our faith forbears believed it to be. Just know that those who insist that you should vote learned this “value” in a religious or cultural environment that is very different from historic Anabaptism.  Know also that suffering love is a very different approach to societal change than is legislated morality and the claiming of rights.

Earlier in life I did not vote because I was quite happy to go along with the faith tradition I learned from those I loved and trusted who came before me, especially my father.  More recently, abstaining from voting has been an act of conscience for me. 

I hope this explanation helps clear up some of the matters that are not easy (and perhaps not wise) to try to address publicly on social media.  


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