The two things you are never supposed to talk about are politics and religion…right? Those are divisive topics. They are so deeply personal that people who hold to different beliefs can’t possibly talk about them and not argue. Why is that anyway? I think it’s because everyone already has their mind made up. What makes it worse is that in today’s culture it seems like every tweet, post, and “article” is a thinly veiled advertisement for some product or point of view. We are not supposed to talk about these things openly, so we just try and sway people by tricking them into agreeing with us. There has to be a better way! There is no getting past the power of listening first and listening well, but when it is time for us to communicate how do we do that effectively?
Over the years I have discovered a very simple trick. I just pretend that I am the listener and ask myself, “So what?” . The So What breaks down into three questions:
- What does that mean? (What is the information you are giving me?)
- Why do I care? (What effect will this have on my life?)
- Now what? (What am I supposed to do with that?)
Let’s try it with both politics AND religion. More specifically, Donald Trump and his “locker-room talk.” A recording was recently released of Donald Trump having a conversation with Billy Busch about women. (What does that mean?) During the course of the conversation Donald was recorded indicating that he has a certain degree of leverage when it comes to women because he is a star. He used some really vulgar language to describe what he thinks he can get away with because of his celebrity. (Why do I care?) You may been offended by his language or you may think our culture is pretty vulgar by and large and therefore you weren’t. You may have thought he was describing sexual assault or that he was just engaging in locker room talk.
You may believe that this recording is simply one example of a long list of things he has said that dehumanize women and minorities or you might think he has said he was sorry and we should move on. You may be reading this and thinking “I hate that guy!” or you might be thinking of all of the terrible things Hilary Clinton has done (and how you are going to post them in the comments…please don’t do that.) Regardless on your take on these things, when did humanity stop being important? When did we stop wanting to stand for values and moral character? Regardless of which candidate is worse you are likely voting for “the lesser of two evils”. My take-a-way: we need to do better America. We need to be better. (What now?) As an individual citizen of this country, I need to start to demonstrate those values and moral character. It is the only way things will ever get better. I am a christian and my faith is a huge part of who I am. It tells me that I am part of something bigger than myself; it tells me that I should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger; and it tells me that there is nothing more powerful in this world than love. If you don’t believe me, the next time someone comes at you with anger or hate be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Respond with love and watch what happens.
I want to be clear that I am not posting this to get people to change who they vote for. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the point of this election is who wins. I have struggled very deeply and very personally recently with how I am supposed to interact with this world as a white, christian man. It seems like everywhere I turn there is just more anger, more hurt and more injustice. As a result, I simply don’t know where else to start but with myself. So I will listen more and speak less; I will forgive quicker and love harder; I will be…better.