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Op-ed

Joe Biden's viral 'fat' comment exposes our culture's toxic belief that brashness equals strength

Whether it comes from Biden or President Trump, we are enabling this behavior

Image source: NBC News/YouTube video screenshot

Our culture continues to embrace a toxic belief that is infesting our politics, media, and most disturbingly, our hearts and minds: the notion that brashness, bullying, and a “go get 'em" approach to life, business, and politics is equivalent to strength, courage, and success.

This lie continues to be perpetuated by our leaders, the very people we've chosen to represent us on the national and international stages. Too often, these politicians' behaviors and actions reinforce the very things many of us routinely struggle to keep our own kids from doing.

Nastiness, vindictiveness, anger, unrestrained commentary — the list goes on. Our political dysfunction and the divisiveness it feeds continue to splinter us, threatening to further plunge our culture into an “us vs. them" oblivion. And it's all tragically needless.

As I watched former Vice President Joe Biden last week verbally demean a retired Iowa farmer, I wish I could say I was shocked or surprised. Sadly, the spectacle, which quickly went viral, was just the latest in a stream of horrifying and embarrassing political rantings.

If you haven't seen the video, I'll spare you with this quick recap: Biden called the man “a damn liar" over comments the voter made about Biden's son, Hunter Biden. Biden, clearly frustrated, proceeded to challenge the ex-farmer to push-ups before bizarrely proclaiming, “Look, fat, look."

It was a cringe-worthy and bizarre moment, one that follows a slew of similar — and even more troubling — personal attacks over the past few years from President Donald Trump that have either been spoken aloud or tweeted.

The point here isn't to speak out against Biden or Trump, though. Instead, it's to highlight a dangerous trend we're all enabling. As a culture, we've traded in kindness, goodness, and self-control, replacing them with a toxic terseness that too often masquerades as faux boldness.

Attacking and demeaning people isn't brave, nor is it a mark of true success. It's lazy, unrestrained, and unbefitting of anyone, especially a president or presidential hopeful. Kindness, compassion, self-control, and care — especially for those with whom we disagree — are the true markings of good character. Yet, the examples of those living this out are increasingly rare.

At a time when we have all the resources and tools to be the most connected and cogent, we find ourselves openly relishing in these acts of mudslinging or, at the least, silently cheering.

Biden and Trump aren't the only ones at fault, though. Social media is also a disaster, characterized by endless barrages of attacks over politics, faith, and so many other factors. We're no longer willing to gracefully agree; instead, it's about “winning" at any cost.

We're sending some insanely conflicting messages to our children about what it means to be successful — and decent. Perhaps too many of us have forgotten the toxic political climate we all survived in 2016; maybe we've simply become immune to the chaos.

Either way, it's time for a wake-up call. With 2020 upon us, we're poised to experience a level of ugliness in the political realm that could very well transcend that of the Trump-Clinton debacle.

Rather than relishing in the chaos and consternation, perhaps we need to take a step back and reflect, not only on what Biden, Trump and other leaders are saying, but on how we, too, are interacting with one another.

I'll leave you with this important reminder from Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV): “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

One last thing…
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