Enjoy another guest post by my husband, Dave. -Mary
Mary and I have had some very good discussions about the 2016 presidential race which has been all over the news since… oh, about when President Obama was re-elected. Amidst these conversations I’ve told her multiple times that I’ve been itching to write something on the topic. Such a heated topic, I knew, would be hard to get past the editors, but if you’re reading this then I guess it made it through. So without further ado, a little reflection with a hint of *GASP*… politics.
People need to talk to each other more.
That’s a weird, hypocritical-sounding statement coming from a guy like me, who is as soft-spoken as they come. Sometimes it’s a strength, sometimes it’s a character flaw, but I see the effects of it every day. There have been many times where I’ve been misunderstood, or where I fail to understand others – and it’s usually because I didn’t bother to say something or just ask.
This is a fundamental problem, one I think we all share in some capacity, whether it’s because we’re not talking or not listening. And it’s dangerous because it can easily lead to false assumptions, being judgmental, or stereotyping. We all come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences which shape how we see things and what we value, and we can’t hope to understand those who see things differently unless we listen to their perspective.
This is especially true in the realm of heated, often emotionally charged topics like politics. It is very easy to make assumptions about people based on what political candidates they support or party they declare. Further, because the issues are very important ones (and sometimes very sensitive ones), too often we close our doors to conversation and keep our opinions to ourselves. But so much is gained when we are willing to be open to hear and understand the thoughts of others.
I will be the first to admit that this is a challenge to me as much as it is to anyone reading this. I’ve had many a conversation (or potential conversation) on politics or other big issues that I’ve stonewalled or just plain avoided out of fear.
But I shouldn’t be afraid – political views, like theological ones, boil down to some fundamental values, principles, and heart issues that we all deal with as humans, things like liberty, equality, security, community. Getting to these values is what makes discussing politics (or any topic in the realm of humanities) truly rewarding, and helps us connect with and appreciate those who, on the surface, we may see as completely different than us.
I’ve been very encouraged lately by a friend of mine who is passionate about providing those he interacts with the opportunity to be heard, to try to understand where they are coming from and what they are dealing with. And that’s even about issues he has an uncompromising belief in. In a country that seems to be divided on so many big issues, I think this is more important than ever.
And it’s a challenge to me, as a Christian who wants people to hear about the good news of Jesus Christ and who lives by the gospel as an uncompromising truth. I must not be afraid to let the conversations happen. And I must also care about understanding what other people think and believe. Or else I fear I have not earned the right to be heard.