Forward Today: Being our best selves online

In this week’s edition of our weekly Wednesday newsletter, Scott reflects on the flooding in Houston, and how in the wake of disaster, we’ve seen the best of humanity on social media.

Dear friends in Christ,


I’ve been thinking about social media lately. Last week, my Forward Today was about my eclipse experience. One aspect I did not write about was the social media side of it. Nearly everyone who posted, at least until the traffic problems, was writing about how delighted they were. Awe and wonder were the words of the day. What I realized as I watched all this is that we were united in something wonderful online. Instead of the usual partisan rancor, social media allowed us to share a common experience.
This week, we’ve seen awful images of devastation coming out of Houston and South Texas. Harvey has left thousands without homes, and recovery will take years. There is no way to sugar coat that or to pretend there is a silver lining. I do hope you will consider making a gift to Episcopal Relief & Development in support of their work.


Photo by Texas National Guard, via Flickr / Creative Commons
Without ignoring very real suffering, I also want to acknowledge something else. In the wake of this disaster, social media have allowed us to see humanity at its best. People have been generous with one another. People have offered care and shared their need for care. People have offered their prayers and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and work.
And the church has been at its best. Clergy have been amazing pastors on Facebook. Churches have offered online prayers when in-person services weren’t possible. Members have taken care of each other. Churches have rallied to open their buildings up to shelter strangers. It’s just what the church should be doing.
After sharing something similar to this on my own Facebook wall, a commenter wrote, “Not sure why it takes a disaster to show our best side, but so proud of so many kind people.” Yes. Let’s not wait until the next disaster to be kind to one another. And as long as people in Houston are suffering, let us continue to give, to work, and to pray.
While I do think we need to speak boldly to challenge oppression and injustice, I also think we need to offer kindness and compassion. How can social media allow us to reveal our best selves, whether that’s prophet or pastor? How can we be our best selves online?
Yours faithfully, 
Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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