Well… President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate change agreement. Dems/Progressives are ticked off. I get it. I do. When you passionately support something, and it doesn’t go your way, it’s a tough pill to swallow. But I’m bothered by the shallow nature of the discourse. Several of my friends on Facebook have made posts implying that anyone who disagrees with the Paris climate change agreement is greedy or uncaring or not really Christian. Fill in the blank.
Unfortunately, that eliminates the possibility of real discourse about a very important subject. I didn’t vote for President Trump, and I’m not a fan. I am also not a fan of the EPA or the Paris climate change agreement. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a passionate believer in being a good steward of God’s creation, so maybe taking a few minutes to find out *why* I oppose such governmental efforts would be worth the conversation? Maybe listening to what I have to say with an open mind and an open heart would be useful and educational?
Rob Bell in a podcast before the election talked about how war is not conflict but instead the inability to deal with conflict. As a society, we will always have differing opinions, but once upon a time, we had the maturity to talk it out, to debate it out. Now, it’s all rhetoric. Debate requires listening, and no one is really listening to other side.
In grad school, I took a fabulous class in Liberatory Pedagogy with one of my favorite professors. She deeply understood the importance of debate in educating yourself and in growing knowledge. She posed the question, “Could Liberatory Pedagogy be used to oppress students?” Initially, I sat in silence contemplating what I considered an important and deep question. Sadly, several students scoffed at the premise, treating the question as if it was ridiculous. They missed a key opportunity to enter into a deep and meaningful discourse.
Current political discourse is creating the same situation. By refusing to listen, by minimizing others and their opinions, and by dismissing opposing points of view, we are missing opportunities for deep and meaningful discourse.
It isn’t about changing people’s minds. It’s about personal growth. It’s about conflict resolution. It’s about demonstrating emotional maturity. It’s about seeking and serving Christ in one another.
I challenge us both… Listen to someone you disagree with today. Don’t listen to respond, but listen to understand. More importantly, find and serve Christ in that person.