Hard to Watch
I’ve been trying to figure out why I can’t stomach watching these presidential candidate debates. Just hearing them talk makes me feel almost physically ill. Kristin can handle it somehow and even looks forward them. I suspect that having changed so many diapers when our children were young strengthened her defenses against nausea. I’m thankful for this because I do want the pertinent information these debates produce and she helps me find it.
But I still want to understand why I find these debates so hard to watch and I have concluded it is because they are characterized by the very things I try hard to avoid in communication.
- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
- Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
- Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices. (Colossians 3:9)
- How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:4)
- Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool— how much worse lying lips to a ruler! (Proverbs 17:7)
I recognize there is value in debating the relative merits of opposing views on substantive issues and I actually enjoy a forum where that is done with mutual respect. But it is embarrassing to watch adults talk to each other like immature middle schoolers. As the moderator vainly tries to maintain order it, it looks like a marriage counseling session gone completely off the rails. All my counseling impulses want to shut the whole thing down before it gets even worse.
I realize televised political debates are simply part of how the game of American politics is played and those who refuse to play will never be elected. I also understand I must get over my natural distaste so I can participate in our civic process as knowledgeably as possible. But the whole process makes me all the more determined to help create a culture characterized by humility, respect and love. So help us God.