Thursday, October 1, 2015

Four Ways to Reach Across the Aisle

Dear Friends,

This month I’ll share with you an opinion piece I wrote that ran on PennLive’s Op Ed page on August 19:

As my parents sat on the back porch after farm chores were done, they discussed with neighbors the merits and faults of presidential candidates of all parties. They sometimes voted across party lines.

Today social media serves as the back porch, but along with thoughtful discussions, I read vitriolic remarks. Some call those who hold a different political stance stupid, idiotic and worse. On television, politicians resort to name calling.

Where has civility gone? Surely we realize no one person is all right or all wrong. Surely each party has something to contribute to build up our country. Surely we can disagree without questioning each other’s intelligence.

It’s a strange world we live in. God must at times just shake his head. We sing “We are One in the Spirit” on Sunday morning, and then on Monday morning we skewer those who do not share our philosophy of life.

I appreciate a country where we are allowed freedom of speech. But should freedom offer a platform to offend? Just because we can say anything doesn’t mean we should say anything. Will our legacy be one of hurtful remarks or thoughtful dialogue?

Makes me long for a better place. Then I realize, I am responsible to make this world a better place. We am called to live according to the principles of our faith.

Proverbs 16:23 reads, “From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive.”

That tells me to choose my words with care, to answer with wisdom and grace, because such answers may shed glimmers of truth on areas of disagreement. If we think before we speak, others may think more seriously about what we say.

Let’s reach across the aisle to shake hands rather than to punch words:

1.      Remember the people we address are real people. Among them are friends and neighbors, people babysit for us in emergencies, people who cheer for our kids. Show respect.

2.      Remember to speak with grace. Anonymity emboldens. And we need boldness to stand up for what we believe. But there’s a difference between being bold and being brazen. Remember the Golden Rule. Speak to others as you would have them speak to you. Show compassion.

3.      Remember there is always more to an issue than meets the eye. We can admit we do not have all the answers and ask questions. We can say “in my opinion” and talk about how our position will bring positive change rather than simply kick at another’s position. Show humility.

4.      Remember to find something good to say about those of other parties. Acknowledge something to agree on. Affirm that others are sincere, tenacious, hard working. We live in a great country. Rather than tear down our countrymen and women, let’s build them up. In so doing, we become “menches,” authentic humans who can respectfully differ and sleep with a guilt-free conscience at the end of the day. Show integrity.

Feel free to add your suggestions in the “Comments” section. If you receive this post by e-mail just scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link.

Have a blessed month.


Upcoming Engagements:

October 8, 12 Noon – Shirley at Front Royal, Virginia, Christian Women’s Club.
October 10-11 – Friends of the Heart leading retreat for Church of God conference in Cambridge, Maryland.
October 18, 6 to 8 p.m. – Friends of the Heart at “Coffee with a Purpose” at Stone Valley Church, Hickory Corners, “At Any Age, At Any Stage: Celebrating the Christian Life.”

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