Comments 3

  1. Excellent advice! We need to hear this message over and over again, particularly when we are not inclined to listen to one another. Unfortunately, shouting only begets more shouting. Listening, on the other hand, can produce a harvest of peace.

  2. This is entirely possible and even the natural, inevitable course of dialogue IF trust and an unalienated, authentic interest in others prevails over fear and anger. It is only perhaps “put of touch” to think that the mass media is capable of it, or most politicians in televised debates. They’re going to reflect and amplify where we are at as a people in most cases, and what they think will make us react favorably to them.

    The real challenge to me is the question of how far tolerance and good will can be extended before it becomes a moral crime. Is there “treasure” to discover in the views of someone who calls frequently for violence as a solution to problems, even fairly indiscriminate and arbitrary violence against particular, demonized groups? I am curious how a pacifist would respond to that, versus a Christian like Bonhoeffer. Where do you locate yourself in that dilemma?

    A second question that arises for me is why should we expect self-identified Christians to be especially capable — or capable at all — of this confident love that goes out to others without losing, or unduly fearing the loss, of itself and its ground of values? Is this a gift Christians just have conferred on them by magic, or does it require years of cultivation in good soil? Christians too are products of abuse, tragic losses, a lack of material or physical well-being, and sometimes not a lot of healthy intellectual or religious formation. Our psyches are not specially insulated against stress, anxiety and trauma. We’re also good at covering these things up and compensating. If we’re using faith largely as a coping device, whenever we run into someone or something that seems to challenge our deeper views and principles, we’re going to experience this as a big threat. It seems like your approach to dialogue would have to address this, at least indirectly, if it leads participants discover things about themselves.

  3. I think it is important to distinguish one type of “political disagreement” from another type. I use quotes because the one type isn’t really a disagreement, even if it constitutes the majority of exchange in this election cycle. When candidates call the other a liar, or dishonest, or “little Marco,” or “lying Ted,” or low energy, or some other label, they are usually not expressing disagreement about anything at all — or even discussing something about which one could “disagree.” Rather, they are doing a childhood chanting equivalent of “na na, na na na” (please supply the rhythm and cadence from your childhood memory) so as to, hopefully and this year hopes are coming true, cause voters to emotionally dislike that other candidate, or perhaps to like the bully chanter, or both.

    Of course, while Donald Trump hasn’t invented this political tactic, he has expanded it in concept and usage, such that we have seen presidential debates in this election cycle like we have never thought we’d ever see. But, these are not disagreements of any kind. Indeed, the problem with the Republican side of the primaries this cycle is that there has been so little engaging in discussions, or even arguments, about actual disagreements. Indeed, I’d be happier, in this election cycle, if the “dialogue” descended into badly done arguments about actual political positions.

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