Tag Archives: bad days

Losing the Art of Conversation (or, Long Live the Flame Wars!!)

It’s been another one of those writing days when I had a beautifully crafted post all ready for uploading, and yet I stopped.

The post was based off comments received from another blogging friend’s post; a rather lively give-and-take session between, at times, four different commentators.  But as I continued to read through the ever-growing thread (last count: 153+ comments), one thing became painfully obvious.

No one was listening.

Everyone seemed so laser-focused on making their own point that no one bothered to recognize the other commentator may have had a point as well.

I soon realized that within my own post, beautifully crafted though it may be, I was doing the same thing.  I was going to perpetuate the overriding issue on my own humble little blog.  Oh sure, it would have been a lively debate.  But to what end?  After a while, if all you end up doing is reiterating your point….again….and, again….and, again.

There comes a time when you have to ask . . . What IS your point?  Do you want to be heard?  Or, do you want to be right?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that anyone necessarily had to agree; simply that they took the time to digest the information, and understood.  Agreeing is not the same as being heard.  Agreeing is also not the same as understanding.   I may not agree with you, but I can at least acknowledge that I “get it”.

And sometimes, that’s enough.

Try typing in the words, “I don’t agree, but I get where you’re coming from.”

It’s not easy is it?  I think we, as a general human condition, feel that acknowledging someone else’s point is akin to agreement; or worse, the two most dreaded words to those with strong opinions on whatever topic is being bandied about . . .

Acceptance.  or, Tolerance!

*gasp*

Umm, It’s not!

Let me repeat that for those few who may have read the “T”-word, shut their eyes, covered their ears and went, “lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala”.  It’s not!

Sometimes, whether it be through blog posts, follow-up comments, or Facebook status updates, we get so wrapped up in making our stance on an issue known that we forget there’s an actual person on the other side of the keyboard; most often wrapped up in making his or her own stance the central focus.  At this point it doesn’t matter how many times you repeat it, that you resort to sarcasm because they have the density of an Acme brick, or that you YELL IT OUT IN ALL CAPS!!  The conversation has, for all intents and purposes, stopped.  It’s now no more than a flame war; with mortars of big words and lofty ideologies fired back and forth with little regard for collateral damage or casualties.

I’m right and you’re an idiot, dammit!  WHY CAN’T YOU SEE THAT!!

Could it be that we’ve become so enrapt in our own little blogospheres, emboldened by the power of Facebook commentary, empowered by the anonymity of unsigned emails, that we’ve lost the finer art of conversation?

How many of these flame wars could be avoided if the two (or four) combatants were sitting face-to-face across from each other over a cup of coffee or gourmet burgers?  For the sake of the next round of bottomless fries do you think you might concede the point?

There’s a certain nuance that comes from the facial expressions that accompany spoken dialog; a disarming tilt of the head, a knowing smile, a sarcastic twinkle to the eye, the furrowed brow of deep consideration, not to mention the hand gestures that add emphasis and drive home a point.

And I’m sorry, but this  🙂  doesn’t cut it.

As Chris Jordan from Beausejour Pulpit so aptly puts it:

“Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here: I enjoy Facebook just as much as the next person, but we can’t allow our online friendships to become a substitute for real world interactions.”

Maybe it’s just the speed at which our brains work.  When we read an online status, a blog post, or a new comment we don’t agree with, we’ve got all the time in the world to think of a pithy comeback.  But, when we’re sitting across from the person, in the heat of the moment, quite often that pointed jab of witty banter just doesn’t come right away.  And maybe, just maybe, that’s a good thing (or should I emphasize, a GOOD thing).  Maybe that’s the time to simply stuff your face with another steak fry, cock your head to one side and say, “Yeah okay.  Whatever!”

Post Script: On the same day I caught the idea to write this post, I ran across two separate articles written along the same lines.  They probably drive the point home much better than I could and are provided below:

Inside the Writer: The Spoken Word   http://insidethewriter.com/2013/05/29/the-spoken-word/

The Beausejour Pulpit: Facebook or Face-to-Face http://thebeausejourpulpit.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/proverbs-12-facebook-or-face-to-face/

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Quote ~ A Candle Being Burned

“We are a candle in our home countries.  We are being burned in order to bring light to our communities.”

~ An indigenous Christian missionary who recently visited Real Life Ministries and who would only give his first initial, last name, and general area of Southeast Asia as his community, on why he does what he does in such a highly persecuted area of Muslim and Buddhist influence.

Quote ~ On ‘Hate the Sin’

I like this . . .

This is a quote I ran across while researching a completely different topic.  Still, I felt it an appropriate word of caution, especially given our socio-political climate today.

“Hating the sin while claiming to love the sinner too easily spreads hate in the world, because I am convinced that hate is just too strong a human emotion for us to keep under control.  We, as humans, are not disciplined enough to handle our hate, and when we give into it, it becomes a white-hot consuming fire within us that blinds us to all else . . . If we are going to hate anyone’s sin, the only person whose sin we have a right to hate is our own, and that’s it.  And yet, I place a word of caution in even doing that – the same slippery slope that applies to hating the sin of others also applies to ourselves.  We too easily slide from hating our sin to hating ourselves, and a people who are full of self-hate are going to find it very difficult to love anyone.”

~ A.J. Thomas (from a sermon series entitled, “That’s NOT in the Bible”)

Matthew 5: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV)

Romans 1117 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. . . .23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. (ESV)

The Conviction Train (Or, How I Spent My Easter Weekend)

Ah, Christians.  To know Christ is to have it all together.  To be a Christian is to be perfect; blameless; selfless; righteous, and upstanding.  To be a follower of Jesus means to know just what to say, just what to do, in all circumstances.  To show people a “better way”; pointing the way—through the shining example of our own lives—to the Lord through our righteous living, generous giving, and outward, unremitting attention to others.  Always.  In every situation.  At all times.

And to think, I almost got through typing all of that without cracking up.

The only thing I know for sure that a Christian truly is . . . is convicted.

I don’t mean a beat-yourself-up-at-all-times-because-you’re-such-a-screw-up type of conviction.   I see it as we all have a base level of morality instilled within us; an internal knowing or instinct of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, regardless of the choices we ultimately make.  Once you cross the line of faith, this instinct begins a process of refining, of being sharpened; the desire to “do what is right” is strengthened as the indifference or ambivalence over “doing what is wrong” begins to fade.  You begin to pause a little longer, more carefully considering the negative ramifications–for yourself and others–before making what could be considered a ‘poor’ choice.  The conviction to do what is right.  The conviction not to do what is wrong.  The conviction to correct or make amends for wrongs already committed.  The conviction to put others before yourself.  The conviction that your own shortcomings are quite enough and there is no need to point up or dwell on the shortcomings in others.

Proverbs 19:11 A person’s wisdom yields patience;
    it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

Personally, I was pummeled with the conviction sledgehammer all last weekend.  Actually, more like being on the runaway conviction train.  At full throttle.  With no brakes.  Wheeeeeee!! Continue reading The Conviction Train (Or, How I Spent My Easter Weekend)