The topic of civil conversation seems to be a recurrent theme in my readings this week. I’m amazed at the serendipitous ways these themes crop up and the first person that usually needs to heed them is me. On the radio yesterday I heard someone speak on the vital task of getting ALL sides of the story before flaming away at the participants engaged in only one side of an argument. This morning I open up my email and read my weekly message from Explorefaith.org and find an article by Sally Thomason about civil dialog between people who have different points of view. I’ve learned that one cannot control what others say about you, especially when it’s mixed with truth and falsehood. I also learned that just because I post one side of the story or my opinion on it, that doesn’t make it true either. Thomason writes:
To express our opinions, to stand up for what we believe, to act upon what we feel is a fundamental right and in a large sense a necessary part of being fully human. What a person thinks and feels matters. But more important than freedom of expression is the realization that our view is always limited. As hard as we try we can never achieve a monopoly on Truth. The Truth beyond our understanding is that we share the same Creator with that fellow with whom we might passionately disagree. This means that when there is disagreement and blood begins to boil, although it is extremely hard we must always respect the living spirit within our opponent. This is when we turn to God for help… To listen and hear the personhood of the other beyond their words is our challenge. To realize that despite our differences, we all are deeply connected through and within God can help us experience a new dimension of the living spirit.
Atheists and theists alike, whether turning to God for help or not, can learn that our views are always limited by our location, experiences, and spiritual states of being. Arguments flare up because we can’t read another’s heart, nor should we. Rather than turn each other into templates for ideas, why not treat each other as just people instead? Mark Driscoll, if you’re listening, or if you even care that I’ve been talking about you, I apologize for discussing what’s really none of my business. To anyone else I’ve perhaps maligned, consider this a public apology as well. My blog will never change another’s faith, politics, or philosophical persuasion. I can only show you my viewpoint from my narrow corner of the world, whatever that’s worth.
Peace and blessings to all.