Long, long ago, in a land, far, far away I spent my days shaping the minds of budding geniuses and guiding supple hearts into the men and women they would someday be. I held the high honor of being called teacher. One of the pivotal moments of each year was the defining and establishing of classroom culture. What did we want ours to be? What were our goals? How did we want to feel when we came here? Together, we determined beyond mastering the standards for our curriculum and becoming a valuable asset to our classroom and world, honoring all who aided us in this process of becoming, we yearned to feel safe, respected and valued at all times.

Lofty goals you might say. Many in our culture would even mock these goals and our need for a “safe space.” I can’t tell you how many times a day I see similar sentiments expressed in my newsfeed. However, I doubt you’d feel confident about dropping your student off at the classroom door that first day had I expressed an anarchy policy would be enforced in order to prepare them for the real world. “Get over it buttercup; the world isn’t safe. Sorry, your classmate stabbed you. Why don’t you go stage a cry-in?” Teacher of the year material, right?

The truth is, we’re all looking to create a safe space in this world. We want our homes to be safe, our marriages, our places of employment, and our nation. It’s why we purchase home alarm systems, make marriage vows, have laws, rules, and a judical system. We are all looking to establish and protect a safe place for the ones we love. We all want to feel safe, respected and valued at all times, even when we disagree.

If you’re feeling unsure of whether or not you are in fact safe, respected and valued at all times, even you disagree, I challenge you to skim the comment section of any news story on any major news site. You may be alarmed to learn you are neither safe, respected nor valued. Instead, you’ll likely learn that if you disagree, you are an idiot. Uneducated, unwanted, you may even be invited to end your life or leave the country. It’s funny; I never seem to hear anything anyone says to me after they call me an idiot. What about you?

I can’t tell you the frequency with which the term “Libtard” has begun to appear in my news feed. I can only assume those using it are aware it’s an abbreviation for “Liberal retard’, and yet feel comfortable using it anyway. My dear friend is a liberal. She’s also a practicing counselor, a devout Christian whose been volunteering at her local homeless shelter for the last four years. She’s poured into the lives of my children. She prays over me personally on particularly hard days. Is this who the people in my news feed are referring to when they reference “libtards?” Either way, as a Christian, an educator, and a human being, the use of the word leaves me grieved and broken beyond words.

My husband is as conservative as they come. He has a master’s degree and studies each political and social issue for hours on end. He also washes my hair when I lack the strength. Is he the uneducated, hateful backwoods hick bringing down the world I keep hearing so much about?

My Grandmother has been in Heaven with the love of her life for several years now, but she had a way of speaking truth in love I wish the whole world could have watched. When someone rushed passed her in traffic, she’d say, “Well go on, and tell ‘em we’re’er coming.” When she thought perhaps you were sticking your nose where it didn’t belong she’d say, “ Well Stacey, I suppose every tub’s gotta sit on its on bottom and everybody’s gotta tend to their own rat killing.” Disagree with someone? “Eat the meat and throw out the bone.” In other words, take what is good and throw out where they might be missing it, or where you can’t come to agreement, don’t annihilate them online.

Friends, I confess that I often miss the mark, but my prayer is that we might join forces and together, we might make the internet and then the world a place where everyone feels safe, respected and valued at all times, even when we disagree.

Stacey Philpot

Stacey is an author, goofball and avid reader. You can find her blog at http://chronicallywhole.com/ where she endeavors to encourage other warriors like herself along in their journey of battling for health and discovering wholeness. She is mom to Hayden and Avery, stepmom to Julie and wife to Ryan (a smarty pants who works at NASA and logs their whole life on spreadsheets and pie charts, true story!) She has a strange affinity for eating whole meals in bed (don’t tell anyone) and is convinced smelling old books will make her smarter.