on civil discourse
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
I’ve mostly kept my pie hole closed this election season. That’s not because I am without opinions – I have lots of those. A few of them might even surprise you.
Months ago, as I began reading the sometimes daily (I gave up reading those) rants of friends on both sides of the aisle, one thing became crystal clear: the outcome of this or any other election is far less important than loving people.
That’s not a cop out and again, it doesn’t mean for a second that I am apolitical. It just means people are more important than my right to hear myself talk. (The irony of saying that in a blog post is not lost on me.)
Having an instant, worldwide platform is a good thing. My goodness, it’s been a tool for people to unite, whether to find their loved ones in the midst of disaster or to come together to bring down tyrants. Being able to instantly broadcast your every thought has its down side, of course. I think that’s come in the loss of civil discourse. Facebook and Twitter are filled (and have been for months) with the most hateful, vilifying words I’ve ever heard.
(I remind you that I used to spend a lot of time visiting clients in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and rehab units. Political pundits and angry voters should have nothing on a cocaine addict in detox.)
You have the absolute right to speak your mind. That’s the beauty of this great country. Hate the president or his opponent? As long as you don’t threaten them, you can rant all you want. The Secret Service is not going to pull you from your bed and cart you off into the night, where you’ll disappear forever. That happens elsewhere, you know. Don’t forget that.
Words do matter. I admit that I am nursing a few wounds here. Some people have said things that I can’t "unhear” but that, if nothing else, have caused me to evaluate my boundaries. If you claim to be a person of faith, I hold you to a higher standard than my non-Christian friends and I hope you’ll do the same for me. (Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.)
We can disagree at the core of our political leanings and still agree on the things of eternal significance. I truly believe that. If you want to change someone’s mind, talk with them. That means having a conversation that involves both listening and talking. Have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Love people, love people, love people. Love doesn’t leave room for personal attacks.
And remember that we have about 1460 days before we do this all again. That’s a lot of days, people, and a lot of opportunities to say words that heal, influence, change, impact and inspire. Make them count.