Friday, December 30, 2011

A Time for Honest Dialogue... 2012

("Dialogue" by Doc Ross)

Today I spent an unusual amount of time reading reports, updates, thoughts, reflections and most of all - raw opinions - on issues that have really fired people up in 2011. The HOT ones. The ones that drive rivers of rage in and through our bodies.

Let's put some of the issues on the table:

Liberals vs Conservatives
Right Wing vs Left Wing
Occupy vs Tea Party
1% vs 99%
Being LGBT and Christian
Being LGBT and Muslim
LGBT Marriage
Undocumented Immigrants
Pro-Life or Pro-Choice

Here's more:

Black vs White
Gentile vs Jew
Uncircumcised vs Circumcised
Head Covering
Women in Leadership

So now that I've got your attention... or better yet, I've possibly gotten you stirred up already. Take a few breaths.

A calm question: do you already (in a matter of sentences) feel firmly planted in your position on how you feel about the above HOT topics?

Reflect a bit.

I'm going to list several words and phrases below. Think on them as you will.

Healthy Relationship
My Story
Your Story
Do I make sense?
Do you make sense?
Each other

Before we go further I want to make clear that I have simply listed (some) hot issues and a series of words here. Many who read this (if I haven't lost you already) will jump to assumptions that an agenda is forming.

Let's name some of the possible agendas:

Anything Goes
Everything Goes
We're all the same
Over emotional
Ignoring Truth
Ignoring God's law

If at all possible, I would advise that you re-read through these words. Try to read through them only as words and (as much as you can) disconnected from your own thoughts, ideas and influences. Simply take each word for what it means. For example: Head Coverings: cloth or garment placed on one's head and/or Integrity: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Now that you have re-read through the terms let's think about the following term:


What does the word mean?

Dialogue defined:

...maybe as simple as: conversation between two or more persons

...or more specific: an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, especially a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.

Do you feel that you have allowed yourself to have 'Honest Dialogue' with others who would oppose your strong beliefs on these issue?

Let's again remember that dialogue is usually - in it's nature - calm and open.

Dialogue is not an argument.
Dialogue is not a session to be convinced or to do the convincing.
Persuasion is not dialogue.

Would you agree that inter-personal, relational, local, national and global tension is rising?

I've worked hard to keep this post as unbiased and open as possible. Try reading through this again if you have doubts. Is there hope for a country, a community, a family, a neighborhood to prioritize these conversations to create (if nothing else) less violence, less hate, less isolation, less insecurity and less polarization... less tension.

The human story - our story - is worth it. I hope. Will we drive ourselves into destruction if we don't simply - better understand each other?

I challenge all of you (as I challenge myself) to engage in more Honest Dialogue as we move into 2012.

Parks, railroads, trails, back yards and open spaces can be some of the best places to try...

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Are People For?

Read this today as a group of Colorado clergy from 6 different congregations gathered to push ideas, passion and heart towards justice issues:

"When a community loses its memory, its members no longer know one another. How can they know one another if they have forgotten or have never learned one another’s stories? If they do not know one another’s stories, how can they know whether or not to trust one another? People who do not trust one another do not help one another, and moreover they fear one another. And this is our predicament now... (for) most of us no longer talk with each other, much less tell each other stories. We tell our stories now mostly to doctors or lawyers or psychiatrists or insurance adjusters or the police, not to our neighbors for their (and our) entertainment."

- Wendell Berry, essayist