Loving Your Neighbor Beyond the Echo-Chamber

BY BILLY MYERS | November 23, 2020
Sunday’s Readings

Upon hearing yesterday’s Gospel, I am drawn to reflect on those who do not inherit God’s Kingdom in the story—those who did not feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, or welcome the stranger. Ultimately, they did not care for the ‘least of these’ because they did not see Christ in those who were suffering. In today’s world, in which we are continually divided, we must ask ourselves where we too have failed to recognize Christ in our neighbor. 

The polarity present in our current political climate makes it hard to engage with those who think differently than us, particularly on social media. But if we fail to recognize the goodness in the other are we missing an opportunity for further dialogue? And is failing to engage with those who are different from us a failing to recognize the love of Christ present within the “other?” 

echo-chamber

Ignatian spirituality tasks us with the challenge of finding God in all things. Not just finding God in the pages we follow on social media or the friends who agree with us. Yes, it can be fruitful to work and engage with like-minded people to create a more just world. But at the same time we can not forgo the more difficult task of engaging with those who think other than we do. We must consider our neighbor who thinks, looks, and acts differently than us. 

I recognize the challenges present in online engagement. It is not a space to be able to listen deeply to one another, or to hear and understand where people are coming from. The platforms we engage in can largely become echo-chambers where, no matter which “side” we are on, we are unable to see what those who disagree with us are saying. In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis says, “The way many platforms work often ends up favoring encounters between persons who think alike, shielding them from debate.” (45) 

Love is and has always been difficult, challenging, and at times uncomfortable. This challenge of engaging online begs us to love one another, even when it’s difficult, especially when it’s difficult. We must now face these difficulties in new ways as we seek to love Christ in our  neighbor who may not agree with us.

4 replies
  1. Eileen
    Eileen says:

    The movies and many books make love look easy. It takes work and time. Recently, a person indicated that the students who matriculated at my school were there because they had no other offers. I was insulted on their behalf. They are wonderful people who make a great deal of sacrifice to be at our school. I had an outpouring of animosity for this person. I brought it to the Lord at the direction of a priest. He also encouraged me to go talk to the person who insulted my students and myself. It took a retreat, some serious prayer and listening to the Lord to accomplish this. The talk I had with the person was fruitful and led to the realization that the person had a great deal to offer to others and to the Lord. It also made me appreciate my students even more. Love is hard work.

    Reply
  2. julie
    julie says:

    Engaging with those who think differently than I do is one of the most rewarding experiences I have. If we BOTH can LISTEN to each other, we both gain. Neither of us had to end up agreeing. Just respect and LISTEN to each other so each can more fully understand why we have the opinion we have.

    Reply
  3. RJ Andes
    RJ Andes says:

    We live in a time when people can be anonymous behind a user ID online or mask there identity in other aspects of everyday life. People need to accept the fact that there will always be a certain element of criticism or opposing views this can either help you or lead to a open discussion.

    Remember everybody has faults and no one is perfect, neither right or wrong…the end goal is to spread your message within boundarys that is seen to be acceptable even if your not 100% correct, you have put yourself online inviting a reply.

    But at least you know someone is engaging even if they are not agreeing with you.

    Where I work due to the interests from media in our athletes we are always reminding them that one hashtag, one like or even any step out of line with social interactions could possibly harm there future prospects.

    The sad part is around 8% fail to listen and there future is basically over in sport and no one will have them has they are seen upon has bad influences in the locker room. The Internet can help people but it can also hurt them.

    What I put online I would say in a crowded room if I couldn’t then I wouldn’t of put it in the first place, I’m an open book no pages missing with additional pages for people to express there opinion but also remember I can too if I feel I can add to the discussion.

    I might be harsh in certain things I say but my eyes are wide open and I’m no sheep., you have the choice to ignore or reply at the end of the day it’s what the individual decides.

    Reply
  4. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Diversity is a challenge. Super-diversity is more so. Mankind is blessed with rich and deep reservoirs of resources to meet any and every opportunity for world-building. Long live the memory of the teachings and practices of the legendary Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

    Reply

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