It’s not the Media. It’s us.

Last week I went to a town hall by Rep. John Curtis. I’m not a Republican, but I appreciate his efforts to listen to all of his district. I like his pragmatism. And I hold him to a high standard. That’s why I fact checked him on one important point.

While I typically press Curtis on Net Neutrality, I came to this town hall to listen to the people around me and find what was on their minds. The environment, the deficit, immigration, education, gun safety, gerrymandering. All important topics, and I appreciated the level-headedness of most of my Provo neighbors.

Then one man asked the question I would have asked: what can we do to become united again?

Curtis answered with a question: how many of us had seen or read news reports about the bipartisan opioids bills that Trump signed a few weeks ago? Most of us shook our heads. And yet we had heard of the mail bomber. He concluded that the media doesn’t report positive stories.

A quick google search proved him wrong there. Everyone from Fox to Vox had reported on it. We just hadn’t listened. I don’t watch TV, but I read online a lot. I admit I had scrolled right past the opioid news… likely on to whatever nonsense Trump was spouting on that particular day, which is so consistently divisive I can’t even remember what it was.

Trump gives new meaning to the term bully pulpit, but we can’t squarely blame him, either. He’s there because enough people chose him. Some voted for Trump because he was a reflection of their own hearts. Many didn’t care as long as they could gain from it. And most, I submit, voted to defeat the Democrats.

We see the same thing now: down with the Republicans. Frankly, as long as Republicans are so afraid of being voted out that they won’t defend America, I hope they will be defeated.

But ultimately? Most politicians and media pundits, regardless of their stripes, are beholden to us. If they’re feeding us pride, greed, and hatred, it’s because that’s what we’re buying. We the People are destroying this union we once formed.

We could say tribalism is just the human condition, but I’m going to call on those who say we’re a Christian nation. We should hold ourselves to any higher standards we claim, but sadly, the news is far less fake than we are.

Bible-thumping friends: are we worshiping a golden calf? Christians: is this what Christ taught? To my friends who believe in the Book of Mormon: you know what happens when people set out to get gain. You know how this story ends. It either ends in repentance or destruction. Every time.

So many Christians have pointed out how sinful our nation has become, but have we looked at ourselves? Do you really love your neighbors? All of them?

If so, what are you doing about it?

Additional thoughts: a friend pointed out that putting all the blame on the people, and not on the politicians, is victim blaming. So to clarify, it’s not that our representatives and the people we listen to are innocent. And I recognize I only have so much power as an individual. But I am responsible to influence what I can. I can be more mindful in media consumption, conversations, assumptions, and in my votes. I can limit the power I give them, and encourage others to do the same.

I can make an effort to be involved in our communities and really get to know the people around me, because I’ve found it’s a lot harder to regard people as the enemies if I know and serve them. I can think twice about whether I’m harming others to get gain. I can try, as a Christian, to do better at living my faith. And that’s what this article is about.


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