By Bill Mefford
In an interview with the BBC, right-wing talk show personality Ben Shapiro got, in Shapiro’s own words, “destroyed” by the BBC interviewer (whose name I am not even sure of). When I first started seeing this trend on Twitter I thought the interviewer must be some kind of English Rachel Maddow - a brilliant leftist able to dissemble conservative views and counter with one-line zingers. That’s the way talk shows tend to work these days, except that leftists and rightists never really appear on the shows together - they just lob the zingers at one another from the safety and seclusion of their TV studios. Brave.
But if you watch the video you will see the interviewer does something far more devastating to Shapiro - he quotes Shapiro word for word about past things Shapiro has said. Shapiro finally ends the interview and walks away, not because of the things the interviewer is saying as much as it is because he cannot possibly defend the things he has said being put back to him.
Sometimes the most effective way to push back against bullies is to simply hold up a mirror for them to see or hear their own behavior or statements. It has worked for me. I keep a journal as part of one of my disciplines and I like to occasionally read back over what I have written from years ago. There are times I wrote about the things I questioned or doubts I had admitted of worries that held me captive, only to see those issues or instances fad away or be resolved entirely. Or they continue to to this day.
But there are also times when I read what I have written years ago and I cringe. I cringe at my judgmental attitudes and condescending thoughts towards those I disagreed with. I cringe when I describe actions that were filled with self-righteousness, most of the time birthed out of my own hurt. I cringe and I pray that I will learn to do better. I cringe and I pledge to God and to myself to continue to passionately pursue what I believe in while also trying to love people, wherever they are, on the road to liberation. I cringe because transformation never comes through my judgment, but rather, through God’s love.
We all desperately need mirrors in our lives, whether they are spiritual disciplines or, most effectively, people who will hold us up to both who we are and who we should be. Looking in the mirror should not always have to be a form of rebuke either. Looking in the mirror should be a way to see the goodness of God, the creativity of God as God has created all of creation so distinctively and so uniquely.
But let’s face it, looking in the mirror of our lives, particularly at our pastor or present attitudes and behaviors, there can be some ugly stuff; stuff we want to hide. Man, there is so much in my mirror. And it is that time we absolutely must hear the voice of God proclaiming forgiveness and grace for us; recalling God’s unconditional love for us AND for those we have hurt. If, by reading this, you find yourself looking into the mirror of your life, remembering attitudes and actions which haunt you and shame you let me say this loud and clear to you - in the name of Jesus you are forgiven!
The goal of looking in the mirror of our lives is not meant for shame or guilt, though shame and guilt can be aspects of our honesty. The goal of honesty is holiness.
But what is particularly sad for our society and for the church universal is that we are increasingly becoming leftist and rightist TV studios, isolated in our views, never questioned, never challenged. Just like Ben Shapiro. In our own TV studios we can lob zingers from the safe confines of never having to be tested and never having to be brutally held to account. We desperately need some honesty in our body public and it starts by having it in our lives.
And so today I appreciate Ben Shapiro and especially the BBC interviewer and I hope my time of looking into the mirror does not have to happen on live TV.