Are you bothered by much of what you see in your Facebook news feed? Have you been caught off guard by the change of direction that can occur in what you thought was a cordial discussion? By the tone? The self-righteous ugliness displayed, at times, even by people with whom you otherwise might agree?
One of the most troubling trends I've seen of late in some of my "friends" is their recently acquired inability to carry on a civil conversation. It's as though a malevolent social engineer in some clandestine draconian control center flipped a big red switch and suddenly a lot of previously pleasant individuals went into confrontation over-drive. Reasonable dialog is the new oxymoron. Anyone whose opinion deviates even minutely from whatever currently reigning neo-orthodoxy is presumed to cover the topic at hand must either be the devil incarnate, one of his fawning demon seed, a paid minion of George Soros or the Koch brothers, or a drooling semi-literate with the functional IQ of a plastic salad fork.
Now I'm not so naive as to deny outright the probable existence of authentic demon seed, paid minions or salad forks per se. But when I last checked, none of my friends fell into any of those categories. Nor do I. So what's the deal? Is it something in the water? Or the air? Have people in our culture just forgotten how to talk and listen thoughtfully and with respect? Do we feel as though no one will take us seriously unless we get angry and shout and bully the opposition into submission? Do we really need to see every discussion as a matter of agreement or opposition, ally or enemy?
There are Seven Simple Words that can change the way we relate to one another, regardless of how we might agree or disagree. One simple sentence. Seven Words that have the power to literally shift the social and spiritual atmosphere around you. Seven Words that can frame and transform any conversation or relationship. And I’m not even going to make you listen to a podcast or click a link in order to dig them out. Just try them and see the weight they carry. Here they are:
“Love earns the right to speak truth!”
Have I earned the right to speak truth to this person? To this audience? What am I demonstrating by my actions, my tone? What is the real heart behind my words? Are my words being filtered through a spirit of grace?
I fear that the current ethos in our culture too often causes the truth we seek to communicate to be lost in a cloud of hostility. Even uncomfortable truth can be spoken in a spirit of grace and love. Otherwise we are talking at rather than with one another.
For more on this, visit Street Faith, our podcast site, and listen or download our latest episode, “Engaging the World in Truth and Love.”