Flawed people in a cancel culture

flawed people in a cancel culture

I have not seen the musical Hamilton. But I watched a special on TV called Hamilton’s America, which interlaced how Lin Manuel Miranda became interested in Hamilton’s story, early American history, the road to writing and production, clips from the musical, and commentary from several actors and observers. It was a fascinating special, and I learned much that I hadn’t known about our history.

The musical is famous for is using an ethnically diverse cast. As Miranda said in one interview, he wanted to represent what America looks like today.

In one of the most moving parts of the documentary to me, Christopher Jackson, a black actor who portrayed George Washington, visited Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. He sat in Mount Vernon’s slave quarters, pondering the disparity of such a great man owning people.

Several of the actors portraying founding fathers wrestled with the fact that these men did both great and terrible things The only conclusion they could come to was that people are are flawed. Appreciating their contributions didn’t mean endorsing everything they said or did.

It doesn’t take much searching to find that most historical figures were flawed. Even most Bible people were flawed. My favorite Bible character, David, was guilty of some of the most heinous sins.

In our fiction, we don’t like a hero or heroine who isn’t flawed because they aren’t realistic.

But somehow, in our modern day, we can’t seem to allow for the fact that people can have sides of themselves that we don’t like or agree with. In today’s “cancel culture,” if you make a single mistake in the public eye, you’re out. People have lost jobs and even been personally threatened when a simple reprimand or correction would have been effective.

Last week when I opened Twitter, I noticed a particular celebrity’s name trending. I don’t follow many celebrities, and am not even all that interested in this man. But I was curious, so I clicked on the hashtag of his name. A backlash had erupted over one of his tweets, which probably could have been worded better. One of those enraged by his comment wrote of “taking great delight in destroying his career.”

It’s horrifying that anyone would enjoy destroying someone’s career in the first place. But it’s even worse to do so while swept along by the mob without taking the time to clarify what was meant or give the benefit of the doubt.

The cancel culture offers no understanding, empathy, forgiveness, or redemption. Just instant judgment, mob rule, and destruction.

We need to hear first.

It’s true, sometimes we need to take a stand or call people. But “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).

By contrast, James 1:19 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

People post links and commentaries fast and furiously online. We should give the benefit of the doubt and not assume. It’s always a good idea to fact-check, to wait to hear the whole story, before forming an opinion.

We need to be careful in judgment

Jesus said, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2). He went on to talk about the ridiculousness of trying to get a speck out of someone else’s eye when we have a log in ours. He also said that if we don’t forgive others, we won’t be forgiven.

Some things are obviously wrong. But if someone is on the opposite side of the political fence than we are, or has a different opinion on a major societal issue, the tendency these days is to write that person off completely. It’s all or nothing.

We need to react redemptively.

Maybe someone made an insensitive remark. Instead of trying to ruin their career or lives, wouldn’t it be better to tell them what was wrong with what they said and give them a chance to see the light?

In the passage mentioned above, Jesus did not say that everyone should just live with logs and specks in their eyes. “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). We’re supposed to help each other see clearly, after we see clearly ourselves.ย 

Our church has been reading through the major prophets in the Old Testament, and now we’re working our way through the minor prophets. Though God threatened judgment on His sinning people, His preference was that they repent and change their hearts and ways. Repentance would avert the judgment, as was the case with Nineveh in the book of Jonah. In the New Testament, chastening and discipline was not destructive but refining. If God gives undeserving people grace, shouldn’t we?

We need to accept each other as flawed.

We know that we are not perfect. We know that no one is perfect. So why do we have trouble accepting people who are not perfect? As the actors of Hamilton came to grips with, good people can do bad things. We all have our blind spots. That doesn’t make wrongdoing okay. But we have to recognize that most people aren’t all or nothing, politically or any other category.

Granted, there are some people with whom it’s impossible to live peaceably. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). I have unfriended or hidden toxic people on social media because there is just no peace with them. But that was not after the first disagreement; it was after long years of interaction.

There are even times the Bible tells us to separate from someone else. Again, that’s not for every difference or infraction, and it’s with the ultimate hope for the person’s salvation. But most situations don’t need to go that far.

And we need to remember, if we cancel each other out because of our sins, flaws, and mistakes, there will be no one left.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul,
Literary Musing Monday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement,
Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies, Share a Link Wednesday,
Let’s Have Coffee, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)


36 thoughts on “Flawed people in a cancel culture

  1. Thank you – very comprehensive and well thought through article – loved it. Released from striving for perfection in myself and from looking for it in everyone else!

  2. I love this post. I am so troubled by this Cancel Culture and everything surrounding it. I believe from my heart that our founding fathers were brave, wise, courageous, although flawed, souls. I am grateful for them and for this country, which yes, is not perfect, but better than anything or anywhere else. Thanks for this post. Have a good week.

  3. These are good thoughts on a troubling topic. Many times, especially lately, I’ve found myself longing for pre-internet days. I feel like social media in particular has done far more harm than good in this regard. Many people who would be perfectly pleasant in an in-person conversation become combative and just plain mean when they morph into “keyboard warriors.” Just yesterday at church, I was discussing with another woman how we miss the days where we didn’t necessarily know what our friends thought about various aspects of politics.

    • I know what you mean. I’m doing more scrolling than reading on social media these days, as so much of it is so combative. Sometimes I am just overloaded from reading so many other peoples’ thoughts on everything under the sun, I just need to turn it all off and enjoy the silence for a while.

  4. I haven’t seen Hamilton either, but I’d love to. I don’t like our current cancel culture either. It’s odd though how some people say one wrong thing and are cancelled, yet others have a history of saying wrong things yet live on strong. Crazy times.

    I agree with other commenters that the internet makes it much worse. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Remembering that we all are flawed is important. Thanks for helping us be less judgmental of each other, Barbara!

  5. Barbara,
    What a well thought out post. I do need to keep reminding myself that God can and has done great things using very flawed people. If he waited for perfect people to build His kingdom, we wouldn’t have even laid the first brick. I have really made it a rule that I don’t react until I’ve heard both sides of the story. Rarely is one side 100% right and the other 100% wrong. Often both sides can have valid points and both can have incorrect perceptions. May we all take a big step backward and think before opening our mouths. Like toothpaste, you can push it back in once it’s out there. Great post!
    Bev xx

    • A former pastor used to say that God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick–He can use any of us, flawed as we are, for His purposes. I love the toothpaste illustration! So apt! And so true that rarely is one side all wrong and the other all right. It’s vital to hear both sides before forming our own opinions.

  6. Amen to this; “If we cancel each other out because of our sins, flaws, and mistakes, there will be no one left.” Like you, I’ve had to mute and unfollow people on social media, however, that’s after a long time of seeing their disinterest in hearing others’ views, thoughts, and ideas. And it’s also for the sake of keeping the peace. I delight in engaging with those who have a different idea/thought/opinion/response than me, however, what I’ve seen all too often is the reverse is not true. Help us, Lord!

    • I also enjoy talking with people with different viewpoints when it can be done amicably–it’s so helpful to understand others. But it’s getting harder and harder to have those kinds of conversations.

  7. You and I had similar thoughts on our heart this week. We must extend grace to others because Jesus extends it to us daily. We are all at different places and need to focus on loving God and others. You are so right, if we cancel out the flawed…there’d be no one left!!

  8. I really enjoyed this post. The state of our nation has been weighing heavy on my heart and it’s hard to know how to respond to anyone at this point without causing a divide. Your piece of writing has given some good clarity and I especially loved the end; “And we need to remember, if we cancel each other out because of our sins, flaws, and mistakes, there will be no one left.” Great point!

  9. You spoke my heart today. Words I wish I had written therefore, I have pinned and scheduled for facebook. God bless and may many take heart of your wise words.

  10. Barbara, another wise post. This >>> “We need to react redemptively.” Yes, and this is my prayer that my reactions and responses would point others to the redemption our Lord offers.

  11. I am currently reading through the Old Testament (Judges). Once again, I am struck by the flawed nature of the people in the Bible. We do want our heroes and heroines to be flawless but that is not how God made us. We are human. We are not without sin. We do need to practice love and acceptance. I never heard the term “cancel culture” before, but that is the perfect way to describe how some people act on social media. Loved this good reminder against being judgemental.

  12. Just like we’ve been told, Nobody is perfect. Also, there are two sides to every story. Thanks for this reminder. Many blessings to you!

  13. This was an excellent post! I have felt so grieved lately even as I see members of my extended family not giving each other grace on social media with the hot topics of the day. None of us has it all together and we all have done things we are not proud of. We are all human and need God to change our hearts. I loved your last line!

  14. Pingback: End-of-June Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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