My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:19-20
One of the more troubling symptoms of our country’s current impasse in terms of productive conversation – albeit politics, religion, or ideology – is the absence of intelligent dialogue. This is evidenced by the limited range of vocabulary employed, the partizan hijacking of otherwise useful words and phrases, the application of clumsy generalizations, and the unwillingness to explore nuance.
Any exchange that comes from an “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality is destined to journey away from truth. When dialogue is replaced by diatribe, discourse will inevitably devolve.
If only we remember the indisputable fact that there’s nothing we can talk about that is not first filtered through a human – and therefore flawed – channel, then maybe we can begin our conversation in the context of mutual humility.
there’s nothing we can talk about that is not first filtered through a human – and therefore flawed – channel
I don’t care who you are: Joe next door, Pope Francis, Bill Gates, the preacher at your church, the guy who changes your tires, a spokesperson in D.C., the editor of your favorite news-source, me, some expert on TV. Whoever you are, the information you have, the “truth” you adhere to, the opinion you put forth – is digested, filtered, processed, and voiced via a flawed, fallible, human vessel.
Every repetition of a closed-loop argument necessarily travels farther away from truth. That’s the problem with echo-chambers – both on social media and in other venues. In contrast, every conversation that is ruled by open-minded inquiry, respectful listening, and an honest understanding that each one of us may well have something to learn, leads toward truth.
I’m sure we’ve all attended a social event where conversation is dominated by a bore who “knows” everything. They are the expert on any and every subject, and they are not interested in anything anyone else might have to contribute. Typically, if you scratch the surface, you will find that their ignorance runs deep. Why? Because when you already know, then you have nothing to learn!
Great questions are better than tidy answers!
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating (and it’s true both in religion and politics): If you run into someone who claims to have all the answers, then you’d be well advised to head in the opposite direction. Both faith and politics are more about great questions than tidy answers.
The place where we discover the most truth is the place where we can engage those great questions together, and most especially when we understand – and own – how much we have to learn.
The first thing we need to learn to do is to listen. In fact, the first great national workshop we all need to sign up for is this: “Listening 101.” You never know, you may well learn something.
We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us. – Romans 5:5
Peace, and more peace. Remember, it’s always a choice – DEREK