Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick and Slow

It’s one of the great faults of humankind to label and stereotype.  We all do it. You’ve heard and said it. “ All New Yorkers are rude, all Catholics worship Mary, all evangelicals are Republicans, all Chicago politicians are corrupt, all Asians are bad drivers, all Black people are good athletes, and everyone from Brazil is a heck of a soccer player.”  
I read an interesting article recently about Muslims in Egypt who formed human shields to protect Coptic Christians during Christmas services.  It was in response to the heinous attacks Islamic terrorists were making on Christ followers.  I was inspired by it. And I loved it because it turned a stereotype on its head.
Some people don’t like to read articles like the one about the Muslims in Egypt.  It rocks their world.  And who wants their world rocked, huh? We all should.  You see, too many of us are stuck.  We’re stuck in our politics, in our theology, and are infatuated by our opinions.  And we don’t want to change.
My take is that those who are capable of changing their mind are the most fun to be around.  You can count on them to apologize when they’re wrong and tell great stories about their ‘stuckness’.  Of course, they don’t just change for the sake of changing.  Nope.  They change because they become convinced that someone else’s sound argument is much more convincing than the idea they’ve been holding onto.
I love having conversations with people who are willing to think clearly and creatively about old issues.  Often, the give and take that comes from those conversations helps create some new possibilities in my stubborn mind.  Then I can change.  And there’s plenty of areas where what I’m holding on to is no longer adequate for the task at hand.
I’m beginning to realize that too much of our country is filled with people who don’t want to change.  “Don’t show me no stinking article about Muslims doing good things because frankly I’m just not going to believe it” they huff and puff.  And it gets pretty clear pretty fast that a good conversation is beyond possibility.
Sometimes we hold on to positions about things but can’t provide any evidence as to why it’s a valid position.  “I just do” someone says and then walks away from the conversation.  It doesn’t surprise me that people do this.  After all, we’re taught now a days that it’s better to get along by going along.  And very few people have been taught the ‘art of conversation’.  I actually think, too many, have lost their inquisitiveness. But certainly not their stubbornness.
I remember reading a letter from a guy named Jim.  It’s in the newer testament.  In it, he urges people to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” It’s good advice.  Everytime I’ve failed to listen I’ve cheated myself out of an opportunity to understand.  When I listen I’m more inclined to form good questions.  It helps put me in the posture of the learner instead of thinking that I’m learned.  And who hasn't wanted to kick him/herself for opening their mouth too soon and motivated by anger?
We’re living in a day and age where a ‘considered response’ is the needed response.  Popping off, sound byteing, and the knee jerk reaction have to be replaced by a new normal. May we be at the head of that parade.

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