Every time an election cycle rolls around I find myself weary before it is actually time to vote. The constant bickering and one-upmanship played out in the mainstream media is exhausting enough, but add to it the conversations at family gatherings, the workplace and even church. In many cases people on all sides of the issues are working hard to demonize the other sides rather than calmly and factually lobbying for their stands.
We absolutely should be discussing the issues and we should be hammering out all sides in an attempt to have the best government and nation possible. We also should be truly attempting to understand the issues and hold our elected leaders accountable. But is it possible to do these things without tearing each other to shreds? Is it possible to respect each other as human beings while we talk through the issues and actually listen to one another’s reasoning? Is it possible to stick to the facts and acknowledge when we don’t know the answer or when we make a mistake?And what about in everyday life outside of the elections? Could we operate in a similar fashion of mutual respect or are we unwilling to admit we may not have all the answers?
How often do we spend more time trying to pull emotional strings and/or exaggerate the truth in order to come out on top, win an argument or be in control?
It seems to happen pretty regularly within the work environment. I’ve experienced it personally, and I’ve been a part of numerous conversations with family members and friends who have experienced it. In all cases, emotionally driven discussions are far more frustrating, unproductive and exhausting than factually focused ones.
Similar situations also arise within families — married couples deal with it, siblings face it and parents and children definitely experience it.Think about all the wasted minutes and hours of our lives related to these types of situations. And it is not only the time spent in the conversations; we also have to count the time spent later recounting the experience to others as we “vent.”
While time spent dealing with these types of situations frustrates me, I am not without fault. I have been the person pulling the emotional strings before and remember how upset it would make me when the other person wouldn’t take my side.
I’m also the person learning more and more each day about how much more productive it is to stick to the facts, stay aboveboard with our comments and actions, and truly listen to all sides before taking action or making a decision.
I’m also learning not to leave God out of the equation. Once all the facts are understood and all the extraneous emotions are brushed aside, then we need God’s wisdom and direction. Seeking Him and listening to that soft, still voice rather than reacting emotionally without careful contemplation can truly make a difference for all individuals involved as well as what happens with the situation.
If every believer were to make this a routine practice, it might even change the way of our world.
So whether it be an elected official, our longtime co-worker or ourselves, it starts with accountability and discipline. If we expect better, practice better and only allow what is better, then how can it not be better?