Beware the opposing view

Published May 9, 2024

By Lib Campbell

Dissent, different perspectives, opposing views are out of favor today. There is an “if-you-don’t- agree-with-me you-are-my-enemy” vibe spreading around the world. Silencing dissent is part of the autocrat’s playbook. We are not the only country headed toward autocracy. Russia is already there, as Putin “wins” his fifth election. 
Putin is the public face of autocracy on the rise. He has killed his critics, silenced the press, and turned what were democratic tendencies completely on their head. Navalny and others voiced dissent. The “dear leader” cannot be challenged or criticized. Challenge and criticism poke the bear and provoke harsh response. 
Netanyahu is traveling the path of the autocrat, as he silences the news outlet, Al Jazeera, closing their operation and confiscating their equipment. Apparently, he is following the playbook that says the best press is no press at all.  News agencies that publish independently from the government propaganda are called “fake news.” Their veracity is undermined, and they are drummed into submission or out of business.
In America, a free press is an element of the first amendment. The free press is ballast when ideas and actions need examination and investigation. There are voices presenting a spectrum of opinions among the press outlets that exist in America today. We all can choose what flavor of news we want. We are shaped by those voices. Our minds have a hard time holding opposing ideas. So, we choose not to hold them; we pick sides and we offer the other side little grace.
The extrapolation of that discernment is that those who hold opposing opinions become our enemies. We become “others” to one another. We self-sort. Neighbors are suspect. Even families show the rift. What are we doing to ourselves? When did we start thinking we have it all right and they have it all wrong? Why do we choose distrust over dialogue and debate? 
There are bad actors in America who are willing to throw our country under the bus for a vision that is dark and grim. If we just look at China, and Russia and see where opposing views have gotten them, we can glimpse what will happen here as propaganda is spread and ingested by home grown hate that plants itself deep in the soul of America. 
Anne Applebaum has a new lead story in The Atlantic. She explains that we are losing the propaganda war. Russian talking points are regularly part of speeches by MAGA Republicans in the congress. Voices like Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon spread disinformation like manure. We may know better than this, but the enticement of burying the “deep state,” (whatever that is) drives those grabbing straws to a far-fetched vision of getting the bad guys. Buy-in is growing. Forget the American dream. 
I am tired of thinking we are on the cusp of losing the America I have loved my whole life. An America where optimism and hope grow. An America where all people can live freely with those they love, where voting is affirmed as a human right. Hate is hard to maintain. It corrodes the soul. 
Donald Trump is an increasingly sad creature. Untreated mental illness has rendered him incapable of compassion and joy. The salacious revelation of his involvement with porn stars and bunnies shows the underbelly of a lost soul. 
In his wealth and privilege, he is angry, disgruntled and pitiful. He is the face of the MAGA movement. Good people have drunk the Kool-AidÓ . Like lemmings, they follow him off a cliff, of their own making while he gives not one whit for them. When the country is dismantled, system by system, it will be interesting to see how all the people who have given themselves to him fare.
Silencing a free press is one way of controlling information. The Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winning investigations of the growing autocratic movement around the world speak to the silencing of information and news sources. The dictator needs no dissenting voice, only complicit ones. No one can tell the emperor that he has no clothes. Speaking a word against the “dear leader” riles his followers. Even my tiny dissent garners such ugliness you would be surprised. 
Still, I speak. I am not likely going to change your mind. But I am not going to hate you. From my little corner of the world, I will pray. I pray for awakening and justice, and I hope for a great turnaround in direction. When love, justice and mercy are the call of the prophet, and love is the command of Jesus, I will err on the side of grace every time. 
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader, columnist and host of the blogsite She can be contacted at