I don’t really like conflict. I’d rather avoid it, really. I sidestep invitations to it all the time, using my gifts of tact and diplomacy, as well as my ability to just keep scrolling down the Facebook newsfeed.
When other people start discussing hot topics–you know the ones that lead to conflict and raised voices and passionate words–it’s my instinct to either try to diffuse the conversation or leave the room (or hide it on my FB newsfeed).
Yet, conversation is important. We need to talk about these things. We are nation…a city…a Church deeply divided on several issues including politics and race. Obviously not talking about these things hasn’t really helped us get anywhere. Conversation and communication have to figure into beginning to understand the divide that seems to be widening by the day between one side and the other.
The peacemaker in me would rather shut down or shut out conversations that are leading to elevated voices. The realist in me knows that these conversations need to happen. And I feel that if people can be civil and kind and respectful, I’d even like to participate in some of them. But too often I’ve been the victim of personal attacks rather than respectful dialogue.
Politics is the topic du jour. We are entering week number 2 of a government conflict that is affecting a lot of people. People have strong feelings on both/all sides. The media feeds our frenzy.
Not talking about it will not make it go away. Talking about it can lead to uncomfortable conflict.
Here’s what I’ve decided: I will make myself stay for the difficult interactions. I will not ignore them or try to get people to stop talking. I’ll intervene if the words become malicious or hurtful. I will be educated about the issues, yet will try to vet my sources (all media is not created equal). I will not sidestep conversations even if all I am doing is just listening to what others are discussing. I will be respectful of other viewpoints, even the ones I’m tempted to dismiss as stupid. I will pray for our leaders, for people who are tragically affected by this stand off and for good, respectful conversations.
Happy Monday, friends! A new week has dawned and with it, a new chance to love our neighbors.