“I will never tell you who you should vote for.”
It’s election season, the party conventions are finished, and electioneering is in full swing. If you don’t receive input from the parties and their candidates on a daily basis between now and November, it is probably because you have chosen to spend time off the grid. Aside from that, in addition to the candidates, there are probably dozens of people wanting to supply you with their two cents worth…. through social media, around the water cooler, at the coffee shop…almost everyone has an opinion and most will let you know that choosing “the other guy” will quickly lead to the end of the world.
In the midst of this, I sometimes feel like the only one who doesn’t push a candidate or a party platform. Don’t get me wrong, I care about the election and I’m interested in the process. After all, I was a political science major as an undergrad. The thing is that over the past 10 years or so, where I find my heart engaged during election season is not in the Who? or What? questions but the How? questions. I’m less interested in talking about the candidates or even what they stand for and more interested in how we talk to each other about the candidates and the issues. And as I’ve said before: I find my heart aching at the tone of the political discourse in our nation today.
Because we’ve stopped being civil towards one another. We’ve stopped seeing fellow Americans as part of “us”. If I disagree with you on an issue, we are no longer on the same team. I’m ready to vote you off the island and revoke your citizenship. And the things we say to and about each other are things I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy. Which is how I think we see each other sometimes.
Into all of this, an article in the February 2016 edition of The Banner (the CRC’s monthly magazine) caught my eye. It is written by Granger Lee and is titled “Joining the Conversation: A Letter to My Son”. Written as parental advice, it gives guidelines that we would all be wise in following as we engage in highly charged dialogue. Allow me to share…
- If you’re joining a discussion out of motivation to “win”, then you’re not ready to be part of the conversation.
- If all your thoughts can be summarized in 140 characters or fewer, then you’re probably not ready to be part of the conversation.
- If you’re comfortable only listening to one side of the argument, then you’re not ready to be part of the conversation.
- If you think you have an easy or simple solution to a complex issue, then you’re not ready to be part of the conversation.
- If you are quick to speak but slow to listen, then you’re not ready to be part of the conversation (check out James 1).
- If you haven’t yet considered whether your opinion could possibly be wrong, then you’re not ready to be part of the conversation.
- If your heart is not burdened to the point of sacrificial action on behalf of those to whom the “issue” relates, then you’re not ready to be part of the conversation.
- If you haven’t yet empathized with multiple perspectives on a given issue or put yourself in the opposing side’s shoes, then you’re not ready to be part of the conversation.
- If you don’t yet have love for your enemies or you haven’t yet taken the time to pray for those of an opposing viewpoint—and not just for them to change their minds—then you’re not ready to be part of the conversation (Matt. 5).
As Mr. Lee states, “Hurting human beings are involved on every side of every issue, which means there is no room for cruelty, thoughtlessness, carelessness, or pride in the conversation. On the contrary, these discussions need to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and so must be founded in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.”
Even conversations about who you should vote for.
- Pastor Lon Wagner