Controversy breeds conflict.
Conflict exposes pride and arrogance. When we encounter differing opinions, our pride becomes kindled.
Case in point: Coronavirus Response.
Everybody has an opinion and those opinions come with strong emotions and even stronger certainty.
Because genuine dialogue between varying perspectives has evaporated under the heat of controversy, the wells of knowledge and solutions have also dried up.
In contrast, God’s wisdom implores us to learn from varying perspectives, for among multiple counselors there is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:14, 24:6)
So, how can we trust that we are among those truly seeking and holding fast to wisdom?
Consider these diagnostic questions:
- When listening to a different point of view, can you acknowledge any truth in an opposing argument while identifying specifically what you disagree with and why?
- How many perspectives are you exposed to first-hand? (I mean, do you listen to the entirety of their ideas in context, listening in good faith, or are you content to merely hear about what was said?)
- Do you already have an opinion on what will be said even before you hear what is said (either because of who is speaking or what “camp” they’re representing)?
- Do you assume the worst about the motives of those you disagree with?
- Do you understand the limitations of data sets, surveys, and projections as well as any possible bias in their presentation?
- Can you admit your limitations?
These are just a few diagnostic questions that will expose each of us to varying degrees as part of the problem. Which, I suppose, is another question. “Can you admit that you are part of the problem?”
We are all biased and unable to fully compensate for our tendency to assume, presume, react, distort, and misunderstand. So, we must learn to listen with patience, charity, and grace. This takes both effort and humility.
The benefits for the church go beyond modeling wisdom and charity when it comes to societal discourse. For the church, this is how we love one another well. This is how we value one another, see the image of God in one another, and abide in the wisdom and presence of God.
So, let’s work on application. As this Corona & Quarantine continue and as talk swirls around opening back up businesses and meetings, let’s be intentional with our words and attitudes.
Let’s strive to do the following:
- Admit we don’t have perfect knowledge; we are limited in wisdom, and have a plethora of presuppositions (many of which we are not aware of).
- Realize that while we may think we have accomplished #1, the reality of those limitations are exponentially greater than we know. Even though we may acknowledge these limitations we cannot fully compensate for them.
- Remember that many intelligent, informed, and capable individuals differ on the interpretation of data and best way to move forward.
- REFUSE to demonize people who disagree with you and make different choices than you. False dichotomies are not true and are even less helpful. One dimensional perspectives are grossly inadequate and simple solutions are for the simple-minded… we can be better than that.
- Acknowledge this is a multi-faceted issue, compounded by complex intersections of intricate societal overlap.
- Allow grace to reign in our interactions and humility in our opinions.
While I’m sure there are a bajillion more caveats and considerations, these are a good starting point.
What would you add??