In Western culture, opinions matter. Our ability to form and express our opinion and personal view or stance has never been more simple, and the platforms for doing so encourage the behavior itself. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are, anymore, a place to showcase a false life or broadcast an opinion. Opinions by their very nature are subjective, but most often deeply impassioned. We believe we are 'right' and we believe our intellect is most savvy, and it's those poor oafs on the other side of the debate that are truly the ignorant ones.
Twenty years ago, there was a stark difference between "news" and opinion. On the front page of the Post would be articles from journalists who fact checked, had accountability through their organization and peers, and who were held accountable as well by the audience that read them. In the back of the paper was a small section (operative word 'small') called "The Opinion Column". Here, anyone could broadcast their opinion, but it was read by the departments, combed for facts, and then published - but it was headlined as "opinion". Nothing more, nothing less.
Today, if you are the average social media user, you will spend no less than 2.5 hours reading/watching opinions. Of these, there is an estimated 270 fake Facebook users at any given point and time, who along with authentic profiles, will create and broadcast videos - (100 million hours of video content are watched on Facebook daily).
In this environment, everyone has megaphones, but the loudest megaphone wins. For whatever reason, it seems most critical voices are often the loudest.
What's more, having an opinion, (bonus points if you use dry satire to prop up your criticism) is now more valuable than viable action. Generation Z, in a recent comment was noted as caring more about "having an opinion than acting on that opinion."
What a world.
As followers of the Way, our approach to life will almost always be in direct violation with the laws of current culture. Critics are nothing new. In the old testament we witness opinions and criticisms circling Moses and Aaron, critics who denied the beauty of the Promise Land in front of two 'believers' (Joshua and Caleb), complainers who came to Absalom to give issue with David's rule. In the new testament, we witness opinion and criticism personified in the Pharisees and Saducees. For them, Jesus' miracles were done on the wrong day, in the wrong way, for the wrong people with the wrong Messianic messaging.
Jesus, if you are wondering, loves the critic (they are, after all, his kids), but loathes the critiquing heart. He despised people who talked about right doing, but never did right.
Meanwhile, Jesus went about creating.
He would create wine for parties. New lives for little girls trapped in death. New outcomes for prostitutes. New lessons for listeners. Jesus was always creating wherever he went.
Just last week, 12 young teens and their coach were caught in a cave in Thailand. Immediately there were voices of critique. How the Thai government was handling it, whose fault it was, why the rescue was taking so long. There were others, though, who just began creating. Creating rescue plans, creating teams to dive, creating new gear to save the children (among these was Elon Musk who is currently my favorite creator alive.)
This contrast can be found in nearly every crisis I can remember from the last year. The hurricane in Houston for example: CRITICS: "Where was the city planning on this?" "Why hasn't Trump released more FEMA money?" "Why won't this church open its doors to the hurting?" "Who's fault is this anyway?" CREATORS: Men and women drove from Louisiana (they called themselves the "Cajun Navy") with speed boats, swamp boats and canoes to save people perched on their rooftops above their flooded homes.
With every crisis we face, there are two sets of people that arise. The critics, the creators. And just like the 12 spies that went into the Promise Land to survey the potential new home, the critics by and large, are the majority.
But the creators, create the future.
While the critics may be loud, their voices numerous, the creators will be the ones who build the world we all live in.
And so you have to choose a side. Are you a critic? Or a creator? Do you bicker? Or do you build? In my life I have found that the human heart actually only has room for one of these. And so we decide the way we give to our world.
Whatever influence and gift you have today, remember that to be like Christ is to CREATE in calamity, to INNOVATE in the face of issues, to DREAM in the face of darkness. As Mr. Roger's mother is quoted as saying "look for the helpers" and join them as they create a new world.