Election Day(s): A Useful Litmus Test of Character

As I write this, many polls around the country still are open or just now closing; results are unknown and unknowable for at least a few more hours. As such, this is provably an evenhanded and nonpartisan statement, as intended.

More than any other in my lifetime, more than any other likely since the Taft/Roosevelt split that backdoored Woodrow Wilson’s ascension to office, and perhaps even that, the electorate is sharply divided and sharply at odds, albeit in an intensely binary way (unlike 1912). Social strife comparable to the ’60s meshes with political division unlike any since the Bull Moose era, and maybe the Civil War.

Polarization and demonization are the norms. “Woke” and MAGA factions alike often are seen on social media regurgitating steel-hard political and/or social rigidities from their unbending, unforgiving, absolutist echo chambers. You’re either for us or against us, you’re evil and we’re good, my side will save us and your side will destroy us, no middle ground nor third-way alternative is tolerated. Any third way is falsely and illogically perceived as “siding with the other guy”.

I don’t offer a short-term solution because in this toxic climate, there is none. The “victor” will claim the spoils, figuratively raping, pillaging, and running roughshod over the “loser”, especially if the Presidency and both Congressional chambers become dominated by a single party. The other side will backlash socially, a collective “sore loser” mentality. “Divide and conquer” will have won as a time-honored tactic of both Satan and our nominally representative duopoly.

That’s the background. Now to take it down to the personal level of you and me. Regardless of how this night turns out, all is not lost! You can’t control most of what happens in society, nor online. Yet there is one thing you can control: yourself.

You have the opportunity for self-improvement, laid at your doorstep on a shining silver platter. Regardless of the strife sure to come, each of us can take this night, and days to come, as a wonderful opportunity to get to know the true character of people, and filter social-media toxicity from our lives.
Other people’s social-media behavior in light of tonight’s results is your litmus test of their character. Take advantage of the test, to improve your own situation. How?

Calmly take measure of how your “friends”, relatives and acquaintances respond to whatever happens. Then use that measure to apply distance or closeness to those people, accordingly, to improve and detoxify your relationships.

Draw closer to those, on either side, who treat the results with humility, forgiveness, levelheaded rationality, and calm, measured reason in either their support or opposition. Stay true to those who advocate their positions with facts, logic, reason, and, for us Christians, time-honored Biblical morals (all of them, not just cherry-picked).

Withdraw from those “winners” (even if on your side) who gloat, brag, taunt, and/or cuss out the “losers”, and pray they’ll grow up someday. Withdraw from the sore “losers” who deal in melodrama, and/or spew numerous ad hominems hither and yon. Withdraw from he or she who reacts in ways driven by emotion instead of reason, who insults others with personal attacks, lashes out in anger, or uses gratuitous and frequent profanity. Withdraw far from anyone on either side who advocates non-defensive violence or destruction of others’ property.

What does “withdraw” mean? It can be unfriending, unfollowing or just ignoring; regardless, their character is revealed in their response, and the litmus test of character has been applied by circumstances. “Withdraw” also can mean remove your stake in those people personally, but keep close, vigilant watch on them (manifesting concepts of Sun Tzu and the fictional Michael Corleone).

I don’t claim perfection in these regards (who honestly can?), yet will seek ways to improve–one of which is to notice and remove online poison clouding the worldview and dragging on growth.

The next few days on social media offer uncommonly acute circumstances that vividly will reveal the character of many who use it. Make use of that opportunity to assess, tactically and pragmatically, who you want as influences in your life. Observe closely. They will provide that answer for you!


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