Yesterday I listened to this past week’s “This American Life” episode “Red State Blue State” and I would highly recommend listening to it today during all the chaos of the election. It and a post from a Facebook “friend” have me thinking a little (this is a friend from High School so the only reason the quotes are used is because I find the concept of Facebook friends rather disturbing). Here is the part of his post that I am of thinking of.
I think my friend’s point is quite good. We should talk and discuss issues that are important. I believe people should hold certain views passionately and work diligently to see their dreams for the betterment of our country accomplished. I think such things are beautiful and to use my friend’s phrase “SO COOL!” The problem is that while I think my friend’s point is good and right I also think he is wrong.
The reason I think he is wrong is because I actually don’t think we are seeing (especially in the “FB feeds” he is talking about) discussion. Instead we are seeing people typically shouting/talking AT each other rather than talking/shouting WITH each other. “WITH” is the word to use for discussions. You talk “with” someone. It involves two at the minimum and sometimes many more than two. “AT” is an entirely different story. You can talk “at” someone and they don’t really need to be involved. “AT” equals lectures. “AT” doesn’t involve an use of one’s ears. “AT” just requires a mouth. “AT” personifies a lot of what I think is presently considered political “discussion.”
This doesn’t mean that we need to always agree with the other sides (please notice the plural) of the issues. There are things concerning which we should passionately disagree with each other. I ‘m not opposed to thinking the other person is wrong. Let’s face it. I’m a minister and I regularly talk with people who consider themselves atheists, agnostics, people from other faiths, and people who are practical atheists in the way they live their lives. If I don’t disagree with these friends and if I am not convinced that they should believe closer to what I believe then I am probably not worth the salt in my body. But if I don’t treat those with whom I disagree with the love and respect that is a part of the good news of the Kingdom of God then I nullify the very message I am trying to spread.
For example I agree less with the politics of my parents now than I did 20 years ago. They know this and I know this. They think I am wrong and … well it would be impolite and not very respectful for me to say I think my parents are wrong so I’ll just say that I think they have better ideas on other subjects. 🙂 Anyhow we get heated every now an then. Why? Well because I love and trust my parents to still love me after I am stupid and I think they feel the same about me. My dad and I don’t usually avoid political subjects (though my mom would probably prefer that we did). Sometimes those conversations go well and sometimes they don’t but they are almost always conversations and not lectures at each other. We are truly discussing what we believe not just shouting AT each other. My dad doesn’t disown me and I won’t forget that he is my dad. After all, just because you disagree with someone strongly doesn’t mean that they are the enemy, evil, or hate the U.S. of A. They just disagree with what you think is best.
So my hope for the country that I love is that we would have more passionate discussions concerning things that really matter to us. I pray that we learn to strongly disagree with one another and still talk and work with each other. Because right now our country’s elections remind me more of college football rivalries than they do a debate of differing philosophies of government.
Now go vote if you haven’t already … or if you are in Chicago or Louisiana maybe go vote a second and a third time (it’s a joke people).
SIDE NOTE – You really should go listen to the “This American Life” episode “Red State Blue State”. It is really good.