Every year there are new words and new phrases added to our vocabulary and dictionary.  Here’s a new one I learned recently: “Cancel Culture.”  We now live in a cancel culture.  Although it was first coined in 2016, Google Trends data indicates there was almost no search interest in the phrase “cancel culture” until the second half of 2018 and early 2019.  The most search interest came in July of 2020. Cancel culture is rampant right now. 

So what is “cancel culture”?  It is the phenomenon of frequent public piles-ons criticizing a person, business, movement or idea.  For example, a cultural boycott of a certain celebrity, brand, company, or concept.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary uses the #MeToo movement as an example where new allegations seemed to come out daily, and attitudes quickly shifted against the accused.  The trend of calling someone out for their bad behavior led to full-on cancellations and even convictions.  It happens at various levels in social media with videos going viral and more.  It’s also the idea behind defunding the police.  A few departments exhibit bad police behavior so let’s cancel all law enforcement.

And, I’ve noticed it is more than a social trend that is impacting celebrities, sport figures, business leaders, politicians or where one shops or eats.  It has infiltrated our culture’s relational fabric.  Friendships are severed or at least severely damaged.  Family members refuse to talk to each other.   People change churches due to the cancel culture.  Workers quit jobs or are fired because of it.  People make statements on social media about unfriending, unfollowing or blocking others if they don’t agree with their posted viewpoint.  The infection of the cancel culture virus sounds like a pandemic.  

Here are three phrases that I seek to live by as a human and spiritual leader in our community:

  • Mature people can disagree without being disagreeable.  (see recent post)
  • Mature people can learn to have unity without uniformity.
  • Mature people can walk hand in hand without seeing eye to eye.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.  Social pressure can be a valid way to influence change and bring justice to wrongful situations.  A lot of good things have happened in our world because a large group of people stood up to wrong, called leaders to accountability, educated the public and held people, companies or governments to a higher standard.  But why are the above three concepts so difficult these days? 

Bottom line.  Most people place a higher value on being right than they do on being in right relationship with others.  Humility doesn’t come natural for any of us.  I must fight fiercely for humility in my life.  And humility is the only thing that keeps me from choosing a right relationship over being right.  Humility is the only thing that allows me to be agreeable when I disagree.  Humility is the only thing that allows me to learn to have unity when I am very different than another person.  Humility is the only way I can walk hand in hand with someone I don’t see eye to eye with.  

As a long-time follower of One who has impacted the world for over 2,000 years, I love this story that one of his followers, Dr. Luke, tells:

When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests.11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 14 (NLT)

When I intentionally choose the seat of humility at the relationship table, it changes everything. I don’t cancel out the person who has a different political persuasion. I don’t cancel out the person who has an opposite opinion about the best approach to parenting.  I don’t cancel out the person with a different skin tone who offers an alternative option for correcting injustice.  I don’t cancel out the person who doesn’t understand or believe in God the way I do.  Instead, I listen.  I try to walk in their shoes.  I try to look at life from their angle.  I try to learn more about their story.  The relationship is much more important than being right.  And it’s really not a conundrum at all.  It’s not confusing.  It actually feels right, and good.  Like, that’s the way it was intended from the start. 

QUESTION: What is the best way you have found to fight for humility in your life? (share it in the comment section below)

4 responses to Cancel Culture Conundrum

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