I think the question in the title of this post is a valid one…can we talk? really talk to each other? really talk to each other about difficult issues? really talk to each other about difficult issues and not immediately get offended?
Recently I had someone unfriend me on Facebook because they disagreed with my perspective on a political issue. We hadn’t even exchanged words or comments about it–he had just seen one (or more) of my posts and decided that for his own sanity he needed to unfriend me (and others whose perspective is similar to mine).
I also have some friends on Facebook whose perspectives I totally disagree with. But I think there’s value in reading them–at least much of the time. It gives me insight into others’ understandings…helps remind me of the need to work together to try to find common ground. Granted, there are times when I simply skip past their posts because I’ve had all of that perspective I can take at that particular time. But if I refuse to listen to them at all, then I believe I’m missing some important conversation.
The Bible–the sacred book of my faith tradition–says in one place, “Come, let us reason together.”
To reason means to use “the power of the mind to think and understand in a logical way”…”the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking, especially in orderly rational ways.” When we reason together, we are all using our minds to attempt to think and understand.
None of us has complete understanding of any one issue. That’s why we need each other…need to understand what each other sees in a particular issue.
Through the ages, our understandings have built on knowledge that has been gained from individuals who are willing to reason together. Sometimes that reasoning took place in the church…in monasteries. Sometimes it took place in mosques…in Arabic centers of learning. Sometimes it took place in universities. And yes, unfortunately, sometimes those who were willing to reason together had to find places of protection because others were not willing to listen to them or to reason with them.
I may not always like what I hear from someone else…and vice versa. But without dialogue–true dialogue–we will find ourselves stuck in rigid positions. That helps no one…so…
Can we talk?