There’s a local sports-talk radio program that had a regular bit called “Overreaction Monday” during football season. It was always my favorite time to listen, as they gave their knee-jerk, over-the-top commentary on the home town team’s performance on the field the previous day.
I’m afraid we are living in a culture that lives in a perpetual state of “Overreaction Monday”.
Take the Whataburger fiasco of last week. Within hours of the CBS news article going live, the story spread like wildfire on internet news sites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The problem? The local CBS news got it wrong. If only the news had waited and let the story unfold, they could have painted an entirely different picture.
The real story? A loved and trusted Whataburger night manager made a horrible mistake by joking that he wouldn’t serve two police officers (not local Lewisville police, but visiting police brought in to help oversee some of the late-nite highway construction mess we are living with in our neighborhood). He immediately realized the mistake, apologized for the blunder, and began processing their order. The officers didn’t accept the apology, left, and contacted CBS news.
And then the story broke. At least the story that CBS wanted people to know and pass along.
I’m still waiting for the truth to be made public. The truth that although Corporate Whataburger had to fire the employee immediately (to avoid a massive public relations nightmare), the Lewisville Police Chief has asked Whataburger to give the manager his job back. Our local Whataburger is a favorite hangout of LV police and they know this was a situation that could have been handled much differently. LV police have continued to show up to our Whataburger to give encouragement to the store and patrons. It’s been pretty cool to see.
But now, outside of our little pocket that gets to know the real story, the damage is done. I just checked the CBS article this morning (the one entitled, “Lewisville Whataburger ‘Don’t Serve Police'”, the original post from six days ago), and there are now nearly 6,500 comments…the most recent was just eight hours ago. And they continue to be vile, hate-filled, racist and fueling the fire of divisiveness and fear in our country.
And this is the same article that thousands linked to, just hours after it originally posted.
I learned a lesson as a young pastor that has served me well in most every area of my life. When I counsel couples through marriage difficulties, I always assume there’s more to the story than I am hearing. Sometimes they are hiding because of embarrassment. Other times they might be withholding, to try to influence my opinion or help. Sometimes there are parts of the story that are simply too painful.
No matter what, there is always more, and I have learned the best way to deal with this is to give time. Time to let the story unfold. Time for the whole truth to come out. Time to give both sides their due. Time to process. Time for cooling. Time for silence to limit the damage. Time for natural healing to take place, if it can.
And most of all, time for me to make sure I am not judging unfairly or reacting to something that may not be entirely the truth.
Can I offer a bit of pastorly advice? When you hear, read or see something that hits a nerve, challenges your sensibilities, or flies in the face of your values, would you push the pause button? Use the time to pray for wisdom. Use the time to research and make sure you are reacting to the whole story.
And most of all, use the time to be sure that, if you are absolutely compelled to pass on the bad news, at least you are passing on the truth. It’s truly the least you can do.