Boston and the not-so-goodness of man

As the sun broke the horizon Sunday morning, I was driving east on I-90 toward the Riverside MBTA station.  I stood on the platform with legging-clad runners, their bright sneakers and pinned numbers a stark contrast to the stained rough concrete.  As we sat next to each other they discussed techniques for training and recovery, their plans for the BIG race the next day.  Wrapped up in my world, I was previously oblivious to the fact that it was marathon weekend.  Quietly I listened to them and compared my plans for the day.  I was going into Boston to volunteer at a convention, to be inside the entire day, talking, smelling, tasting coffee.  Sales and marketing, foamed milk and water pressure.  It was about the fun of combining a little work with something I love.

36 hours my attention would be drawn back to Boston.  Smoke, blasts, shattered glass and buildings.  What is the truth? What happened?  Who do I know that may be affected? Are the people I love safe?  Collectively we were all asking those questions.  There weren’t always good answers.  Lives will now be defined by that instant. Before and after.

Embracing my role as a social media manager to make sure that we put out correct information, and weeded out erroneous stories, I stopped personally processing.  It was business – get the word out, pass on the information, help others make sense, stop the scheduled info and focus on the moment.  Watching Twitter and Facebook feeds, listening to live news reports, my existence was entirely about being online.

Today is different.  The immediacy has passed.  News agencies have been briefed and are more aware of the situation.  Social Media and Community managers have, for the most part, gone on to their regularly scheduled programs, of course adding in the apropos informative links and blog posts regarding the incident.  And I’m stuck.

Downside to being a single, I don’t have anyone at home with whom I can verbally wrestle through an issue.  So dear readers, blurkers, and others it spills out to you.  So many times yesterday I saw memes, tweets, and quotes talking about the ‘good in humanity.’  I have a problem with that.  You see, humankind is not inherently good.  In fact left to our own devices we can be extremely cruel and evil.  Without the redemptive work of faith in our lives, and employing God’s gift of self-control so we can choose to do the right thing, we would be lost.

We ask “How could God let this happen?” while in the same breath we say “I want it my way”.  These thoughts cannot co-exist.  Either we want free will, which includes the choice to do evil, or we want a dictatorship with the Creator calling the shots.  It is not possible to bake the proverbial cake while consuming it.

As a loving God, He allows us to choose.  Being a righteous God, He requires consequences for those choices.  Graciously and mercifully He has provided a way to be excused from the judgement for the choices we make in our moments, but we accept that gift and the parameters that He gives with it – do to others what you would have them do to you; turn the other cheek; make disciples; read the Word and do what it says; love Him above all; live out that love towards those that hate you… (cf Matthew 5-7, 22: 37-39, 28:19-10 NLT)

I will never be able to understand why someone chose to carry out a terrorist attack yesterday.  I applaud the choices of the first responders who chose to run toward danger to save lives.  I grieve with those who must face the repercussions of one person’s actions and now must put lives back together with missing pieces.  And I pray to God that somehow we would all choose to look to Him to gain a measure of peace in the middle of a chaotic world.  To choose to live according to the prescription He has given to live a life that honors Him and serves others.

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Life matters…

Our relationship with this world is a strange paradox. The same can be said for our relationship with social media.  It can bring friends from around the world into one place – as small as the palm of your hand. Sharing stories, major life events, participating with peers in all of the up and downs that life dishes out. Celebrating the victories with a retweet or like, bemoaning a crisis through a comment.  We have distilled life into bite-sized pieces of 140 characters or less.

distorted magnified imageYet, the frailties of our humanity are magnified. A headline from the Toronto Star on Saturday decried “Death by Social Media.” As a social media person, I read these stories with an avid interest, searching my own motives and agendas about being online.  This, unfortunately, is not the first tragedy of its kind.  A friend recently posted about a similar situation on his blog, reminding us that we need to remember to humanize our social media.

Every post is a person.  Behind those avatars, profile pictures, and cover shots is a real live breathing human person with a soul and a story.  Each post, tweet, blog, and instagram is the reflection of a moment of life. And every life matters.  They matter to God, and as a Christian, they should matter to me.  Whether it is a life barely begun in the womb of a woman, a life that is malnourished because of poverty, one that is at risk of being trafficked as a slave or sex-object, or one that just somehow fell through the cracks of nets that government and society have set up – they are important.

God sees them. Even if we don’t.  He invites us to participate in His Kingdom by “hollowing out a great space in the hearts of those who will risk this loving and compassionate life-style.”  To extravagantly love others is to risk hurt, rejection, and pain. To experience the sufferings of Christ. As I search myself, I hope I find a soul hollowed out to be filled with love, rather than one fits “the world’s mold that will leave us misshapen in our souls.”

**italicized quotes from “Tent Revival Homecoming” presented by Bill Gaither © 2011

the Whys among us

cassette age test

picture via Pinterest & TheChive

Do you realize just how quickly the world around us is changing?  It was brought to my attention as I was online and saw a picture of a cassette tape & a pen.  Do you know how those two things are related?  I do!  Too many episodes of spooling the tape back into the cassette for me… Yet, I’m pretty sure my younger brother has no idea.

Music formats are just the tip of the iceberg.  I can remember when the internet was new (I was in high school).  Now, we’re on the cutting edge of technology – The era of the ‘zettabyte’ is forecasted to be here in just three years according to this infographic.  Wow, how far and how fast we have come.

As the communications liaison (one of my several hats) for DOVE Africa, its my job to be ‘on top of’ this stuff.  Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, Buffer, HootSuite, the blogosphere… have all become part of my daily lexicon; all in the effort to stay connected to the world around me.  Yet I have to wonder, am I really engaging the world or am I just adding to the ‘noise’ around me?

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.” I Cor 13:1 I realize that even in all I do, I must offer the truth of the love that compels me to action.  Its all about the “Why” of my story.

Why did I think that news article was important to share?  Why did I write that blogpost? Why is that picture worth posting?  When we connect in social media it should be about the reason for engaging, not just the content.  I’m called to be a thought leader and a witness to what I believe.

The world is changing and we must respond to that, yet we cannot sacrifice the truth of His unchanging message of grace and forgiveness on the altar of relevance.  Just like money is a tool used to expand the Kingdom of God, so too is social media.  It is simply a tool.  However, also like money let us not love social media for itself, or we may have paid too high a price.