With evil elements, social media generally lacks genuine acts of kindness – Marin Independent Journal

Faced with a world that seems fascinated by the intransigence of real and imagined challenges, it is increasingly important to harness, rekindle and stir up the energy and imagination of optimism.

Pessimism in itself can become an obstacle to progress. Why make the effort to have conversations or have open political dialogues with others with whom we disagree if they only lead to fractured relationships and increase fear of each other? Some variations of modern media, both formal and informal, have become shades of pessimism. In its most insidious form, it can be evil.

Evil is noisy. It is boastful. It’s bombastic. Evil does not speak; it screams. Our cellphones, computers and televisions are inundated with self-promoting ideologues. They play in front of the crowd. They collect likes on social networks. They build brands and create images of popularity and success.

Although we hope that their influence will be short-lived, know that the images are facades. Their hit is a mile wide and an inch deep. Nonetheless, we are disheartened by their existence and the enthusiasm with which bigotry, xenophobia, violence and pride are celebrated. Like the hot, powerful winds formed during a firestorm, they can suck optimism from our prospects and stifle our hope.

Evil engages in sleight of hand, supplanting facts with lies, turning the foundations of truths into quicksand. Thieves can and do arouse a nagging envy. Popularity, after all, brings with it the power of influence. We assume that if we had the power of popularity, we would be able to save lives. Herein lies the error of this avalanche of feelings and the justification for discouragement.

Popularity has always been elusive for the good and the brave. The truth has never been crowded. Kindness and compassion have always been ridiculed and looked down upon. Yet throughout history mankind has apparently avoided destruction by popular and deceptive ideologues.

The perseverance and relentless perseverance of those who would not accept being defeated or silenced have saved us time and time again.

The good news is that human beings were created with the ability to think, feel, and believe. Empathy, while it could be suppressed for a season, could never be erased.

It is the testimony of the Christian gospel and many other religious traditions that, in recognizing and working through our weaknesses, there is a type of strength that overcomes evil. In the act of believing there is an intention of hope and conscience which collectively forms a sphere of influence which permeates the hearts of even the most insensitive. By courageously speaking the truth, embracing the pain of others, and showing love, circumstances change.

Breathe: stand in a quiet room and listen to your heartbeat. Remember that this rhythmic sound is that of a muscle that is the beat of the miraculous power of faith pulsing with hope, replenishing energy and brimming with imagination for the next generation.

Listen intently to that persistent, small, continuous sound of life based on the premise that you and I don’t give up. Evil cannot and will not win because we are still breathing. Do not surrender your power to the illusion of futility. The fantasy world of the modern media universe cannot resist the real world power of people who will not give up on our human efforts to do better, be better, and create something better with each other.

The algorithms of hate are immediate, but the constant genetics of real human relationships are much more effective in changing the world. Acts of kindness, forgiveness, love, and courage are always worth the effort and risk of committing to reaching out to each other in real time for real change.

Reverend Floyd Thompkins, of Novato, is pastor of Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Marin City and CEO of the Justice and Peace Foundation.

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