TMT#9 POLITICS (2): A Goldilocks Exchange

I recently read “I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening) – A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations” by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth A. Silvers. It makes for fascinating reading. Quotes from the book in blue (emphasis added):

The recent UK political landscape has become stingingly divisive. It appears more fractious in the USA than ever:

“Today, if and when we do enter a discussion with someone from the other side, we’re ready for battle, not dialogue.”

The hole in our political discourse where grace should reside has been filled by equivocation, bitterness, and derision. We view each other with skepticism: “If you do not agree with me, then your motives are suspect.” This skepticism of each other’s motives is what concerns us the most.”

We only need a cursory glance at social media or the evening news to see that this is true. What’s the solution? According to the authors,

“Learning to have healthy conflict with each other over political challenges is of utmost importance; in fact, it is a spiritual imperative. We do not demonstrate love toward our neighbors by demonizing them over how they feel about tax policy or reproductive rights. We do not turn the other cheek when we treat politics as an insular sphere in which fighting fire with fire is the only way. We do not live as the hands and feet of a loving creator when we opt out of the processes that dictate roads and bridges, school curriculum and water treatment, war and peace. Neither stridence nor apathy is a virtue.”

I couldn’t agree more. It follows directly from Megan Phelps-Roper’s comments in TMT#08. We cannot distance ourselves from political discussion. But equally, for the good of our cultural landscape, we must engage in a way that is loving, respectful, and honouring. Disagreement is OK. It’s healthy. Hear this: disagreement and intolerance are not the same thing!

We need to find a middle ground between the two extremes of distance and division; a kind of Goldilocks exchange. I think too many of us (including myself) like our political porridge either too hot or too cold. In summary,

“When we put politics in its place, we know a person attacking our politics isn’t attacking us.”

This is one of those posts where the two-minute limit is crippling. I highly recommend grabbing this book and devouring it ASAP. Think of it as a starter for before you get stuck into your ‘just right’ political porridge! One more post in this mini politics series to go…

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