Yesterday, I posted a comment on social media which I knew was controversial and I expected the responses that were quick to follow. What I wrote didn’t attack anyone personally. It was an observation about a current public policy. Four hours later, there were 60 comments, some on point, many not. A friend sent me a note – “Bro, you know how to blow up FB!” Yes, it was amazing to watch while people dug in, defending positions. Mostly, the comments stayed in bounds without name-calling or personal attacks.
But, the responses I found most helpful were those in which a couple of my friends chose to be vulnerable, sharing their own experiences that were so much different from mine. I gained a better understanding of why some see more value in a program than I do.
What’s my point?
We need to be able to say things with which others disagree and engage in civil dialogue that brings clearer understanding, but that is increasing rare these days. So often when someone says or posts something that we find objectionable, we choose extreme alternatives – disengage or attack! “How could be friends with someone who thinks like that?” Or, “You’re such an idiot, an offense to the human race, a disgraceful excuse for a human being.” Hang on! Back up for a moment.
Dialogue is what makes all of us better informed, what helps us to bring our perspective to the table where we can become part of a solution.
In the polarized, angry, toxic atmosphere of public policy in which we live, many of us just choose not to say what we think for fear of the certain backlash. We are all poorer for it. When Theresa and Dave wrote about the value of the program that I questioned to them personally, it made me think, made me reflect more fully on the humanity that was involved. Compromise is not always a dirty word, is it?
So how about we re-learn dialogue, having the courage to say what we think, and to listen well to what others say? Instead of going on the attack, let’s invite conversations that reveal our very different experiences, perspectives, and assumptions about life. Is that hard? Sure it is, especially when the thing in question is near and dear to us, or when it involves deep convictions about what we believe to be ‘right and wrong.’ I’m glad I made some waves, not because I love confrontation, but because I learned something about two of my friends that makes my understanding of them richer, my view of the world just a bit more inclusive.
Here is my reflection from the Word … two very different sources but pressing us to the same place.
First from Solomon who writes, “The quiet words of the wise are more effective than the ranting of a king of fools. ” (Ecclesiastes 9:17, The Message) Ouch, that one stings!
And then, this from James, “My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight.” (James 1:19-20, NLT) Teach me, Lord.
Blessings on your day, friend.
Thanks for reading along here on CoffeeBreak With The Word.