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Are you a force for good?

Not so long ago, I attended a ‘women only’ meeting, at which a male church leader was invited to make a short introductory address. As he stood up from the main seating area and approached the microphone on the platform, there was considerable chatter in the room as the women settled down into their seats.


The male guest took the microphone in his hand and sternly shouted: ‘Silence, ladies. There’s a man speaking now!’


He was deadly serious, totally convinced of his authority over us – and no one challenged him.


Is it right that a man, or anyone for that matter, can address a women’s meeting in that way?


Unsurprisingly, all of the women in the room instantly shut up! Myself included. But I’m afraid my silence was caused more by shock and disbelief than by obedience to this bossy stranger. I found out later that other ladies were rightly cheesed-off about it. For moments like this don’t happen in isolation. They accrue.


Weapons


Some women demonstrate a knee-jerk reaction to this sort of control. Some are tired of being patronised, and maybe that anger is fuelling some of the unbalanced negative media narrative that is all around us that is fostering distrust, disunity and division between men and women. People dig in and become encamped on opposite sides, the battle lines are drawn, and desperate attempts are made to reclaim ground from one another. So nobody wins, and surely that can’t be a good thing?


Often, when social media is involved, people use their own words as weapons to squash the point someone else is making. At other times I notice they employ the words of others to shore up their own position.


How many times have you heard conversations and discussions that open with the expressions ‘they say’, ‘the media says’, ‘science says’ and ‘the Internet says’? Even among Christians it is very common to hear somebody say ‘the Bible says’!


Accrediting statements using these vague terms seems wishy-washy to me and I’m left asking: who exactly made that claim/declaration? When their identity has been established, my next move is to question their experience and credentials.


My position may seem harsh but here it is: I don’t take career advice from the long-time unemployed; I don’t take relationship advice from the long-time friendless; and I don’t take health advice from the long time unhealthy. In the fast moving world of social media, it’s worth pausing to consider exactly who is issuing the statement we are about to imbibe.


Other things to take into consideration include:



  • What’s the intention of this person?

  • Are they speaking from a position of knowledge or ignorance?

  • Is it their intention just to blow off steam (however wise/unwise that may be)?


Encourager


Several times a week, I notice that someone is posting negative or critical comments on some of the social media platforms I belong to. Often these negative comments draw attention to the negative behaviour of someone else.


Such interactions often stir up a feeling of obligation to point out how negative they are being about someone else’s negativity! But I don’t comment because that would add further fuel to the growing mountain of negativity.


I reckon there are more than enough critics in the world, so I have decided I will seek to be the encourager we are all called to be.



Val Fraser is a freelance journalist based in Manchester and a columnist for Sorted Digital.


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