The main lesson learned after 24 hours on Facebook is that the people most likely to ask What Would Jesus Do are the least likely to follow his lead.
I was raised in a Southern Baptist church and respected the adults who taught us right from wrong. They taught us about the wrath of the Old Testament God and the compassion of New Testament Jesus. Our teachers were strong, yet gentle.
Several years ago, I had a bout with the flu that evolved into pneumonia. I was out of work for at least two weeks and didn't fully recover for 4 to 6 months. After that experience I am hesitant to venture out into the COVID-19 world because, despite arguments to the contrary, it is still a problem in America. I fear that if I get it, it won't be one of the easy cases you hear about, it will be one of the bad ones, and I am just not willing to risk it.
This makes me sad because I want to be on the streets protesting to support the #blacklivesmatter movement. Because I am afraid of getting sick, I have donated what little I can to support the movement and decided I could log into my dusty Facebook account to let people know my thoughts and maybe help them see the world as I would like to see it.
It did not go as planned.
I have aged with those people I grew up with in church. Naturally, I was friends with many of them on Facebook. I took a breath and dove in to engage them. I wasn't there to berate anyone for their views, but to have conversations with people backed with sources to support my beliefs.
It didn't take long before I was lumped in with "you Democrats" who just want to elect politicians who kill unborn babies. This was from one of those adults I looked up to in church. My head is still spinning from the exchange because we were talking about the T-shirt they posted that said "All Lives Splatter" with an image of a car plowing through a crowd of people. You've probably seen it too. It offended me and I asked if they really thought encouraging injury and murder was the right thing to do. That's when I was essentially labeled a baby killer.
In another thread, I was discussing the battery on 75-year-old Martin Gugino. He stepped up to speak to an officer among a squadron of police in riot gear. The officer responded by violently shoving him to the ground. In the video of this incident, you can see Gugino immediately begin bleeding from his ear. You see his phone fall from his limp hand, which then begins to twitch involuntarily. The police looked at him and just marched past him. Follow-up reporting says he sustained brain damage from this needless aggression.
Someone once counted among my best lifelong friends—also a fellow church member, now with a long career in law enforcement—accused me of being a writer who can make things sound the way I want. I say accused because in context I could sense his contempt for the skill. He pointed out the old man's "ASSAULT" (his caps, not mine) led to the officer's need to defuse the situation. That response could have been talking to the man or some other act that wouldn't have impaired his abilities for the rest of his probably short life.
My friend's comment broke my heart and curtailed my fruitless mission to have intelligent conversation with others. Facebook just isn't the right forum. The people I grew up with, people I held in high regard for decades, lost my respect in one day with a single exception.
One friend in law enforcement met me in the middle. He understands where I'm coming from and agrees to disagree. He listened to what I had to say and I returned the favor. That was all I was asking for from anyone. I'm taking him to lunch on Friday to show my appreciation and to continue a good conversation with a friend.