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Communication busters: How do you treat those with whom you disagree?

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Today I read a post from a man I “met” on facebook and admire greatly.  It got me thinking, and I want to share it with you.  His first line:
As we’ve discussed before, how often do we or others tend to dismiss others (now-a-days calling them dumb or stupid or worse) if they disagree with us, especially about issues we are passionate about?  I frequently run into people on the internet who will absolutely act like I am the worst person in the world because I have an opinion they disagree with.  So what?  Do you agree with everyone you know?  If you are hanging out only with people who agree with you, you are in big trouble.  We need others in our life to debate with over the issues.   For the Christian, it is even more important to beware of this tendency.  God gave us free will, so we have the right to be wrong.  He may not remove the consequences for our choices, but He will not force us to jump on board either.  (See the discussion on freedom in Part V of the It’s all about the heart series.)
What God sees
God looks beyond the bluster and sees the heart.  If the person is genuine,  their belief system doesn’t make them horrible people.  God loves us in all our sin, and He wants us to show that love in how we interact with those who disagree with us.  That doesn’t mean we have to agree with them.  It does mean we need to treat them with love and absolute respect.  We all have many parts to us.  We all have flaws.  We all believe things that are not true or that others believe are not true.  Instead of tossing a person out as ‘unworthy’ because of something you don’t like, love them anyway and agree to disagree.  My favorite verse, Romans 5:8, says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  If God loves us in all our sin, we must show love to others as well.  God loves sinners.  He doesn’t like sin, but He does love sinners.  I, for one, am SO glad He does!  Sometimes finding common ground can help us see beyond the conflict to the heart of this person.
“While we were  yet sinners, . . . .”

How can others see Christ in us unless we show love?  We do not have to agree with someone to love them.  We do not have to approve of their opinions, values, beliefs or actions to love them.   True love shows respect, even in the midst of the most extreme disagreements.
What do others see in you?
When people interact with you, do they see something different?  Does the love of Christ shine out in how you treat them?  Or, do you give them reinforcement that Christians are rabid haters?  Even taking Christianity out of the equation – do you show yourself as a person worthy of respect by treating others with respect?  How do you feel when others respond in rage to everything you say?  How do you feel when others call you names or curse at you because you don’t believe as they do?  This is a good place to trot out   apply the golden rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  We also need to be aware of the minimize mine/maximize yours effect and keep our own backyard clean not spend all our time criticizing the leaves in the neighbor’s yard if ours is full of garbage.
Be a diligent seeker
If we have in the back forefront of our mind that our goal is to bring glory to Christ, not to win an argument, we should do well.  As a Christian, you may be the only Christ others see – you want to come as close to the real thing as possible.  Even if you are not a Christian, you represent yourself and possibly others.  What others think may not be important to you, but you don’t want to drive away those who could enhance your life.  Character, integrity and honor are characteristics everyone should strive for.   For the Christian, it is even more important to represent Christ in a way that draws others instead of turning them away.
What it’s all about

The world’s mentality is often:  please me!  For the Christian, however, the mentality and the driving force should be: please Christ!  The picture I chose for this section is “God’s Garden”, and it was chosen for a reason.  We are all part of God’s garden.  He planted us, sustains us, and harvests us.   Plants tend to grow toward the light, and we should do the same.  If our face is always turned toward the sun/Son, as we seek the warmth of His love.  Just like a child seeks to please the parent, we seek to please our heavenly Father.   We need to remember the other flowers are watching too, whether from the church garden or the worlds. None of us are perfect, but we can do better than what is often found out there today.  It’s about that diligent seeking.

A huge thank you to Al Hartman for your inspiration for this post and permission to quote you.

Do you treat people with respect and dignity, even when they don’t agree with you?

Why do you think this is important?

How do you handle it when others treat you with disrespect?

Why do you think people treat others who disagree with them with disrespect?

If you are a Christian, what have you done to reflect Christ?

What are some things you have seen Christians do or say to reflect Christ (+) or gave Him a black eye (-). 

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It’s all about the heart, Part IV

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If you missed previous posts on this series, you can find them here:     It’s all about the heart;  Part II ;  Part III.

Heading in a different direction, Ann Marie Dwyer, or “Red” as she is called at Mommas Money Matters went a different direction in her comment on part I of “It’s all about the heart.”

Here is the pertinent sentence:

“I often engage in civil disobedience because we have legislators who have no concept of the actual function of society outside their cloistered Senate walls.” ~Ann Marie Dwyer

civil disobedience   (as defined at Dictionary.com)        noun

1. the refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy, characterized by the employment of such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, and nonpayment of taxes. Compare noncooperation ( def. 2 ) , passive resistance.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The USA was founded on civil disobedience as people rebelled against unfair laws.  As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today, January 16, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about where civil disobedience comes in.  You can find a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here:  Biography.   MLK, Jr. is one of our finest examples of civil disobedience.  His goal and his dream was to have a country where everyone was free and equal, and his leadership through civil disobedience helped bring us closer to that goal.
When is it OK to disobey?
I would never, ever promote violent civil disobedience, but there are times when a government’s policies and laws go against a person’s beliefs or the good of it’s constituents.  Choosing civil disobedience is not a matter to be taken lightly.  The cause must be a good one.  However, there are times when to obey would mean disobeying one’s own conscience or God’s law.  When we see grave injustice or evil, is it time to be part of the change?  Is there a higher mandate in some cases?
Quotes from MLK, Jr. on civil disobedience

►We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germanywas “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungarywas “illegal.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from BirminghamJail,” Why We Can’t Wait, 1963

►Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a somber face. But I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.,March 22, 1956

More quotes by MLK, Jr.

Other interesting quotes on the subject

►If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ~Bishop Desmond Tutu

►I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not so desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. ~Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849
►Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it. ~Albert Einstein
►When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders. ~Veterans Fast for Life
►You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it. ~Malcolm X
►If… the machine of government… is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849
►We cannot, by total reliance on law, escape the duty to judge right and wrong…. There are good laws and there are occasionally bad laws, and it conforms to the highest traditions of a free society to offer resistance to bad laws, and to disobey them. ~Alexander Bickel
►Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.  ~Henry David Thoreau
►It is necessary to distinguish between the virtue and the vice of obedience. ~Lemuel K. Washburn, Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other Essays, 1911
What do you think?
Do you agree or disagree with these quotes?
Where is the line?  Is there one?
And finally, a reminder that civil disobedience is not easy:

►It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. ~Voltaire

What are your thoughts on this quote?
What would you consider worthy of civil disobedience?
What would you risk for your cause?
I apologize for the formatting.  WordPress is acting up.  Angie

Communication Busters: Civility in politics?

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In a read-worthy article in Christianity today called “The Cure for Election Madness [How to be political without losing your soul]” , Amy E. Black brings up some very good points about the political situation today.  Having recently been cursed out and called a few names by those who disagree with me politically and having them point out I’m a highly unintelligent ignoramous for my beliefs, I know exactly what she means when she discusses the lack of civility in politics.  This is nothing new, but it seems to have escalated to a great degree.

Distractors

When a person stoops to name-calling, all real debate, all communication has ceased to exist.  Both sides of the US political scene have been guilty of the incivility, especially as they approach the 2012 election cycle.  Lacking the ability to debate one’s own beliefs or substantiate one’s own claims leads to an attempt to take the voter’s eyes off the real issues.  Mud-slinging is nothing but a distractor from the real issues.  It does what the name implies and covers all the issues with mud, so that you, the voter, can only see mud – everything gets ‘muddied’, muddled, and mutilated.  It also distracts from the fact that the mud-slinger cannot express him/herself in any other way.

What about you?

Most of us have come to accept, even though we dislike it, the idea that politicians are going to dig up the other candidates, great-great-great-great-grandfather’s sordid affair with the midwife and other such superfluous issues.  However, if you discuss politics at all, you must realize that the candidates are not the only one’s slinging mud.  What happened to civility?  Why do we have to put others down for not believing as we do?  They do have the right to be wrong!  So do you!

Amy Black writes:

“If we are to seek peaceful solutions and honor God in politics, we Christians of all people must avoid such hateful talk. James 4:11 commands us to “not slander one another,” an exhortation that should extend beyond how we treat other believers. Whether talking with friends or campaigning for our favorite candidate or cause, we should engage our political opponents and their ideas with respect, welcome the opportunity to learn from other perspectives, and find ways to disagree charitably as a natural part of the political process.”

►Engage other’s ideas with respect

All people deserve respect, even if they are wrong.  Since God is very clear that none of us really understand or get it right all the time, how arrogant are we to think that our beliefs (those not specifically spelled out in the Bible) are the correct ones and that means we can disrespect who we want for whatever reason we want?  [“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:11]  To be blunt:  this too is sin.  This does not mean we have to be politically correct and bow down before the forces of evil.  It does mean we disagree in a respectful, Christ-honoring manner.  Jesus was known to call a few people names, such as ‘whited-sepulchers’, but we are not Jesus.  Jesus was speaking of their spiritual condition, and pointing out the hypocrisy of their religious trappings without a relationship with their creator.

►Welcome the opportunity to learn from others

“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  Proverbs 27:17   I frequently find, in civil discourse, that I discover some new aspect of something.  It may even lead to a change of mind, change of focus, or at least a shared understanding.  It is the lack of civil discourse which leads folks to start thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, believing they are the true founts of knowledge from which all others must drink.  Once again:  how arrogant!  At the bottom of this tendency is pride:  bow to my wishes, ideas, political beliefs, etc., or I’ll make you wish you had!  I don’t know about you, but when people go on the attack, I don’t want to discuss with them any more.  Some people seem to like arguing, but I don’t like arguing just for the sake of arguing.  That is drama.  I do enjoy a good debate, however, where each side presents their ideas in civility, actually listening to the other person instead of eating them alive for daring to disagree.  It is when we isolate ourselves from the ideas of others (not accepting, but treating the person with respect) that we become narrow-minded hypocrites, full of self, seeking to make others into a carbon copy of us.

►Find ways to disagree charitably

Agreeing to disagree (in the political arena and elsewhere) allows us to share with one another, sharpen one another, and change society as a whole.  Regardless of what you think about my beliefs, ideas and ideals, feel free to agree or disagree, but please don’t scream at me, curse at me or call me names.  People are always in the teaching process.  When someone does the above, he or she has taught me something.  When a person is disrepectful, he or she has taught something.  People constantly teach others about something through their words and deeds:  they give a glimpse into their character, that inner person.  Civil discourse teaches others that while you uphold your own beliefs, you are willing to listen respectfully to others, and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

God cares about the way we argue

“We shouldn’t retreat from the public square and we should work to build a better society. But I’m convinced that God cares about the way we argue as much as He cares about  the issues we espouse.”  This quote from Daniel Darlings blog post “Some great advice for the election season,” [where I discovered the Amy E. Black article].  As we dive into the debates, caucases and general election melee, God is watching and listening.  He cares about how you present yourself to the world.  He calls all of us to love, even when we disagree with one another!

 

Have you been guilty of mistreating another who disagrees with you?

Have you ever been on the recieving end of such?

How do you respond when others disrespect your beliefs or your right to have and express your beliefs, especially in the political arena?

How do you respond when others disagree with you?   Have you ever evaluated or prayed about your response?

You may be the only Jesus some people see.  Evaluate your ideals, beliefs and actions in light of the Scripture, and then go out as a light in the darkness and as salt to savor a bland world, debating with civility and the keeping the real enemy in mind.

Communication – do ya know what I mean?

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Do ya know what I mean?

Obviously, at least to me, the title is a play on the saying “do you know what I mean?”  Communication is key to everything we do in life, whether we communicate with God, our spouse, our kids, or even the person we hire to do work for us.  When communication breaks down, everything breaks down.

I hope whatever makes its way to this blog will be well communicated.  If it is not, feedback and conversation can help make it clear.  This blog is what I mean, not anyone else, so feel free to disagree, but do so respectfully and cleanly or you will be eliminated, I mean your comments will be deleted.

The art of debate?

I have a confession to make:  I love to ‘set the cat among the pigeons’ or play ‘devil’s advocate’ in order to get a debate going.  I have found often that people don’t seem to know what I mean by ‘debate’.  A debate is a civil disagreement, if you will.  Each side expresses its own opinions and then defends itself to put it in a nutshell.  When a debate descends into argument and name calling, it has lost focus and there is no point in continuing.  Debate is “iron sharpening iron.” It is a way to learn about what others think and to defend what you believe – to  yourself and others.

Just ‘cuz?

If you believe what you believe ‘just because’, you do not really believe it.  Debate sharpens the mind and helps one learn how to know what he or she believes as well as defend that belief in a real way, using real communication.  One thing that associating with others who have different views does for one (in a perfect world) is help you figure out why you believe what you believe.  If you know why you believe it, you will be able to defend it.  This is crucial for all as we reach into adulthood, having often taken on the beliefs of our parents, and live in a world where others do not believe.  It’s alright to believe as one’s parents do, but it needs, at some point, to become real to you.  In other words:  you must believe it because you believe it and not because others do.  This involves self-searching awareness, and is often like pulling the hook when fishing.

Rabid disbelievers?

I can often tell when a person has genuine, thought out beliefs, not by what they believe, but by how they react with others who disagree.  When a person becomes like a rabid dog defending a bone, it tells me something about their belief system.  They are not strong enough in their belief system to stand in the face of those who would disagree or challenge them in any way.  When you know what you believe, why you believe it and how to defend it, you don’t need to descend into the depths of rage.

It’s all in the filter?

Remember everyone has their own family culture and their own experiences in life, even you, and these things filter how we perceive what others say.  This is one of the biggest detriments to real communication, because we’re not always aware of our filters or how to see through the eyes of the other person’s filter.  As an example:  I once called my husband a ‘slob’.  YIKES!  You would have thought I called him the worst thing in the world.  Why?  Because, to him, with his upbringing and his understanding of the word and his filters, it was a horrible word.  To me it was just a word that came up in an effort to hurt.  It wasn’t true, it was a weapon.  I just had no idea how powerful a weapon it was!  Now-a-days, I am more careful with my words because they may not mean the same thing to the person I’m talking about.  This is also how countries get in trouble because we have different traditions, cultures, meanings, and easily insult one another without meaning to.  It works the same way for people, so we have to be open to the idea that our words aren’t always saying what we mean or meaning what we say.

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