Selective Engagement

I have been accused by some of being selective in what I write about, whether in my blogs or on Facebook. This accusation is well grounded. It is true. Here is how I tend to choose what to write about (though there are exceptions, of course). [It seems like I’ve written this before, but I didn’t see it off hand, so maybe it was on Facebook. Not sure.]

First, an event has to happen when I have at least some portion of time to spend reading about it. All kinds of things happen that deserve my attention, but I have many things that keep me busy — marriage, child, 2 jobs, volunteerism, local congregation, and all the regular life chores and demands.

So if an event transpires at an unusual moment when all of those things aren’t taking up 150% of my available time, I select what I engage based on Jesus’ dust-log principle: get the log out of your own eye before dealing with other people’s dust.

That means I deal with people and groups I somehow associate with before I deal with “the other.” That can work out a few different ways, but here’s a view of what I mean:

I’m a Seventh-day Adventist, so I’ll speak to and about my denomination before I address any short-comings of other protestant denominations.

I’m a Christian, so I’ll speak to and about other Christians before I address other faiths.

I’m a citizen of the US of A, so I’ll speak to and about US issues before I address other countries.

I’m male, so I’ll speak to and about men before I address women.

I’m straight, so I’ll speak to and about straight people before I address people with other orientations.

I’m white, so I’ll speak to and about white people before I address other people groups.

There are more ways to describe who I am, but you get the picture.

I tire of men telling women what to do, Christians telling people of other belief structures what to do, white people telling other people groups what to do, and straight people telling people with other orientations what to do. You get the trend. It’s easy to tell someone else to change; it’s harder to look in the mirror and see what I need to change. Crazy hard.

Let me give just one example. One person thinks I should decry Black protesters who destroy property. Of course I’m against anyone destroying property, but my first action isn’t to tell African-Americans what to do. Instead, I focus on learning about the history of white action that led to a situation where African-Americans would feel compelled to speak out in that way (from economic structures to police treatment). And since I work in the media, I want to pay attention to how mainstream/dominant culture press is speaking about minorities, how it is framing the situation, what is being said, how it’s being said, and what is being left unsaid. As a white guy, I believe it’s an easy cop-out to say, “Stop rioting.” Rather, it’s harder and more important to say, “What is going on in and around that particular community that makes people want to demonstrate right now? What is the historical context of the present situation?”

Some of my friends on Facebook think I am too selective. Frankly, I can’t address everything, and this is how I choose to filter what to focus my limited time, attention, and energy on. I choose to work on “our” logs rather than “their” dust.

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