Friday, April 15, 2011


We’re living in a culture filled with squabbles of various types.  Often, they revolve around important issues. Sides get declared, tension builds, and voila words start being written and spoken that are quite ugly.  Here’s my solution to it all.

It’s called an ATO.  That’s right, an Adult Time Out.  We make a pledge whenever we feel the need to say something particularly nasty to stop long enough to think, pray and ask ourselves one question.  Here it is.  “Is there anything I’m missing? You could replace that with “Have I considered why the other side is in such strong opposition to my ideas?”

Here’s my thinking. If I were at Tea Party Headquarters for instance. (I know, I know, they don’t have a headquarters but go with me on this for a bit longer . See, some of you were going to start writing a correction and getting defensive about using the Tea Party as an example ...weren’t you? That’s the time for your ATO) So, I’m at TPH spraying up some signs.  Wouldn’t it be great if someone said “You know, there’s some good people on the other side of this budget argument.  Are we missing anything?”

Or let’s say you’re in the White House and all hunkered down getting mad at that Ryan guy.  Wonder if anyone is saying “Is there anything in his plan we should be paying attention to?” 

Let’s take Facebook.  At the speed and fury that some people write I’m pretty well convinced they’re not considering the validity, even in part, of someone else’s argument. At the moment of fury wouldn’t it be nice if they took an ATO.

I’m thinking ATO would work around a lot of church board meetings.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone once in awhile one of the elders would say “Hey, I’m not going to react right away. What Helen just said kind of makes sense. What have I been missing?”  That’s an ATO moment as is it is for some of you who are mad that I just inferred a woman could be an elder at a church.

So, ATO is my solution for slowing down the world long enough for people to breathe and actually consider what the other side is thinking and feeling.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  In the process, we might have more measured responses to both issues and to other people.

For some people as they get practiced in taking an ATO they’ll be able to calm down relatively quickly.  Some might need to take day long ATO’s.  Others might need to refrain from speaking or writing for months or even years.  It all depends how long it takes them to be delivered from their self-righteousness.  For each of us it’s different.  For many it will greatly enhance their life and influence. It would certainly help take some of the anger out of this world of ours.  Now that would be a truly wonderful thing. 

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