Yes, all over the blog world, it’s that time of year when bloggers all over have been posting their “Best of 2011” posts. They are linking to their most read, most commented, most favorite, and on-and-on.
It reminds me of my own ”best of” post from just about a year ago. I thought it was a pretty obvious parody of a widespread practice, a practice that I have no problem with. But I thought I would have a bit of fun with it last year.
However, shortly after that post appeared, word got back to me about a certain pastor who labeled my post “childlish [sic] and unpastoral behavior” towards a particular person. It was called an “ungentlemanly approach to discussion [that] is beyond the perview [sic] of Christian practice” and an “abandon[ment] Christian principles of argumentation.” On top of that it was called “vicious and childish.”
Pretty strong words for a parody piece.
Here’s the funny thing: My post wasn’t even directed towards a particular person, but to a common practice of a number of people.
Here’s the bad thing: Not one of these comments was directed to me. It could have been cleared up in sixty-second phone call, or a short one-paragraph email. I could have directed this pastor towards any one of a couple of dozen blogs with a “best of” post of some sort that would have shown what I was talking about.
But I never had that chance.
You see, rather than emailing me or picking up the phone and calling me to find out what it was about, or even just ignoring it, this pastor jumped to conclusions and then made these fairly harsh comments about me to others.
My suspicion (based on some others things that were said) is that he had first listened to gossip by someone else, and rather than shutting it down and telling the other person that he would have no part of it, he listened to it and believed it. In the words of Proverbs, “he answered the matter before he heard it.”
On the one hand, it didn’t bother me all that much because I knew the truth about it, and I think many others did as well. Plus he doesn’t answer to me, nor I to him. So I kind of laughed about it.
On the other hand, I don’t like this kind of misunderstanding and I certainly don’t like the kind of personal comments that were made.
So when I got word about what this pastor had said, I picked up the phone and called the guy to try to straighten it out person-to-person. It was an easy fix. Or at least it should have been.
Would it surprise you to know that this guy refused to talk to me and never returned my call?
I would like to say I was surprised, but I wasn’t. I am not much of an idealist anymore. I have been around long enough to know how these things turn out. I know how often people find it easy to throw around attacks without basis, and then refuse to deal with things straight up, person to person. They are unwilling to even consider that they, or the people they have believed, may have been wrong. It’s the MO of far too many people.
The blogosphere has made this attack culture both easier and harder at the same time. It’s easier because you can spread the word faster and wider. And it’s harder because people can see the truth for themselves, and there are always going to be people who know more than you do, particularly about their own words.
So why do I write about it now?
Because I am reminded of the bad way that people tend to handle things, people who should know better. I started to say “handle problems,” but it wasn’t even a problem. It was a silly parody post that led to personal attacks behind someone’s back for no reason other than ignorance. He just didn’t know the truth and didn’t bother to find it out. He immediately thought the worst.
As we close one calendar in favor of another, let us all resolve to pursue a better way.
Don’t jump to conclusions, particularly bad ones, especially when you don’t even know the person you are talking about.
Remember that there are some things you might have missed.
Remember that hearing one side of the story is always dangerous because it is frequently biased.
Remember that you might be wrong, or might be being mislead by someone else.
And having remembered this, temper your response.
To be honest, I haven’t lost any sleep over it because it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I think of it now only because of the plethora of “best posts of 2011” that are peppering the blogosphere.
And the memory makes me chuckle a bit.
I know I have made my fair share of blunders and sins in the blogosphere. I write as one who has been grieved over some things I have said, or the way I have said them, and when I have, I have tried to own them and deal with them righteously.
I have no personal axe to grind with this man. I don’t know this pastor personally, and I rejoice in the apparent fruit of his ministry.
But I wish he would have found out what it was about before trashing me to other people.
Let’s all learn to desire the truth before we speak. And to hold our tongues when we don’t know.