What you don’t understand
Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Whatever you think of the recent election, or of the many voices of protest that continue to dominate the news cycle, it’s clear that ignoring it won’t make it go away. I’d like to suggest a more helpful approach.
I’ve had conversations with passionate people across the political spectrum. And I’ve read many more passionate comments on social media and in the news media. If I could characterize what I’m hearing it would be that we tend to raise our voice without raising our listening. We tend to dismiss and demonize others without developing understanding. We see the world (and our elected officials) through our own experiences and beliefs, and we are tempted to think that everyone who disagrees with us is blind or stupid, or arrogant, or racist, or worse.
In other words, while we may very well have good reasons for our beliefs and positions, we fail to inquire of the other person what their reasons are for their beliefs and positions. Quite simply, we don’t understand. We assume we do, but we often don’t.
- What if the person you disagree with has a relative who is living in fear because of the rhetoric and promises of the recent election?
- What if they’ve had to spend money they didn’t have for health insurance that has gotten drastically more expensive?
- What if they’ve received personal threats as a non-majority person in the last few months?
- What if they have a family member who took their own life because they couldn’t get adequate care after returning home from combat?
Those are just a few examples of that might be the reasons for someone’s opposing view. And we don’t understand…unless we bother to ask.
So my challenge to you is this. Ask. Ask this one simple question (without malice).
“Can you help me understand why you feel the way you do about this issue/candidate?”
What you don’t understand could make all the difference. Most people are more than willing to help you understand. They may get passionate, but they may also raise your understanding. You don’t have to agree with them. But it would be useful if you could at least understand them. Not by reading the news. Not by posting on social media. But by having an honest conversation. By raising your listening more than raising your voice. By developing understanding instead of demonizing and dismissing. Because now more than ever our world needs peacemakers.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. – Jesus
And then this…
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. – James, brother of Jesus