3 Tips for Discussing Controversy

Feeling pretty hot on social media these days? Or…avoiding it because of the all-caps yelling, pot shots and general vitriol? Controversy is not just on social media: it is everywhere these days.

How to manage it when controversy crosses your day?

1- It’s not “all or nothing”.

For instance:  “Long before the government agencies mobilize, local churches are taking up donations, cooking hot meals, helping people pick through the wreckage — helping everyone, no matter their religion or the color of their skin or the language they speak at home.”…and has been all my Southern life.

Where the author is incomplete in their assessment is in writing that one apparently must “love someone and yet fear the group” in which they are somehow connected, referring to sexual preference (but this could be religion, political affiliation, race, hair color). The implied presumption here is that fear is the automatic other choice to complete acceptance of someone’s behavior.

While that is certainly possible, I think it is more likely, reasonable and frankly truthful to say that one can love, admire or respect someone while not agreeing with one or some of their choices, be they daily or lifestyle or in-the-heat-of-the-moment choices.

That is a real relationship.

The author presumes that disagreement over a/some decisions or actions automatically leads to wholesale rejection and marginalization- “fear” – of not only the person in question, but of any others, regardless of other personal qualities/habits/decisions/experience, who hold the same view.

That is a logical leap no logical person should ever make.

2. Don’t be narrow-minded.

Accept others as whole persons, having much in common with each other, without rejecting someone completely because they disagree with you politically, philosophically, even theologically.

To listen, to evaluate, to have a conversation about a controversy, make one’s points, graciously concede the good points of others, press forward with respect: this is maturity… it is “adulting.”

3. Speak when and where it matters. Knee-jerk reactions often get us into trouble, unnecessarily.

“Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” ~ James 1:19-20

To be inflamed by annoyance, disagreement, or passion, dropping scornful, unkind, presumptive or even hateful remarks around social media without attempting to qualify them is irresponsible at best. The downward spiral of this behavior is cutting oneself off from a whole segment of one’s community.

This is not kind nor is it liberal. It is fascist. It is mean.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it is better to quietly observe, and have just one or two real conversations with real people, than to blithely write off any group which espouses or practices something with which you disagree, be that gender issues, political affiliations, or Christianity/religious affiliations. The greatest influence happens within real relationships, and relationships take time to build.

So…let’s get started! Love to hear your thoughts.

With kindest regards, Nancy

3 Replies to “3 Tips for Discussing Controversy”

  1. Yes! Our instructions have been very simple with our girls….
    2 things! Love God. Love People. Jesus was about relationships and the gospel. Be about that. And promote peace. Care about others hearts. We are all at different places. And you need to earn the right to share your thoughts and opinions with others. Good stuff, Nancy. You are good at loving others.

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