I've spent quite a bit of time on what can only be described as a conservative Christian message board. But I have come to the conclusion that staying there is such a violation of who I am that it is impossible for me to continue. At the same time, I can't really say good-bye to some of the people whom I genuinely like and respect, since "drama queen" would be the inevitable label.
Here's the conundrum:
When someone posts something with which I completely disagree, my choices are:
(1) I can state my disagreement, which enables me to be true to myself, my beliefs and values, and my friends, but invites vigorous disapproval and accusations that I am trying to create controversy where none exists.
(2) I can, without indicating my opinion one way or the other, note that we had agreed to avoid controversy, in the hope that people will stop posting on the topic. This prevents me from being true to myself, my beliefs and values and friends, but enables me to remain a gracious observer rather than a pot-stirrer. Nevertheless, it invites vigorous disapproval and accusations that I am trying to create controversy where none exists, just as if I had made an argumentative statement to start with.
(3) I can remain silent, keeping my objections to myself, as I very often do. This also prevents me from being true to myself, my beliefs and values and friends, and enables the original poster and supporters to believe that their position is unquestionably supported. It is also unhealthy for me, as my ears begin to steam and my blood pressure to rise whenever I see the disputed topic heading, which almost no one else will publicly admit to seeing as controversial.
(4) I can stop visiting the site. This also prevents me from being true to myself, since I do believe that reconciliation among people is a Christian imperative, and since it, too, enables the original poster and supporters to believe that their position is unquestionably supported. However, my presence is hardly mandated -- it's a message board, not a community in which I must live, and my absence will no doubt improve my mental health.
I think I choose (4). In my own community, the real life one in which I live, I have an obligation to vote my conscience and to speak out against injustice at least once in awhile. I am extremely fortunate to live in a place in which most people share my views on political and social issues. I suppose that those who do not share them agonize over whether to leave, just as I would if I lived in a real-life community in which my own values were attacked on a regular basis. I know that people have left my church over the liberal social views of our pastors, and I would have to leave if the situation were reversed. I guess a message board is about the same.
It's discouraging, though. I was at a church meeting tonight in which we talked about how devastating it would be for the worldwide Christian community if we cannot find ways to talk to each other across political lines. Easier said than done, that's for sure.