dialogue: receiving without fear

conversations need to yeild money

i was working for a temp agency the other day doing some support work at a boys home. my team member and i took one of the teenagers out for christmas shopping and whenever the teen would act out my teammate would loudly chastise the young boy for not having the correct behaviour. which, for the most part would work. and it ‘fixed’ the boy.  and this approach to parenting, shaping society, discussions and many other examples can lead to destructive results or very expensive counselling fees. i think the idea of ‘correcting’ someone because they don’t believe the way you do is not only disastrous but arrogant. having said that, i do believe that there is a need for morals and some structure when either parenting, shaping societies, or discussing. but how we go about it, i think makes all the difference. let’s take this idea into the realm of discussing theology or religious worldviews for a second. when you are in a conversation with someone and find yourself disagreeing with the person you are in dialogue with, for some, the tendency is either to get frustrated, deflated, or discouraged and maybe even angry. and so we treat difference in opinions like they are an attack on us. or if they don’t believe the same way we do, we spend all of our time trying to get them over to our side. and so, without knowing it, and maybe even intending it, we create sides. we create a battlefield ready for verbal bloodshed. and so the only way we know how to win is to ‘humiliate’ or make someone sound foolish (listen to some radio stations when the DJ disagrees with the listener and they have a falling out) an usually we want to do so publicly because that is the ultimate triumph. rather than living with the tension that both people might have truth in what they say. we would rather colonializeo our conversations. and some to try and win the dialogue might even quote scripture to make the argument sound that much more coherent. which really, when you think about it, is cherrypicking your favorite verse and using it out of context to justify your worldview. but it doesn’t help your case.  maybe we can rewrite how we discuss with each other. maybe it isn’t about proving who is right and what is wrong…discussion should be about the humble art of learning, not just teaching. not just giving but receiving. maybe the use of humiliation in discussion techniques is because we might be afraid to receive. we don’t know how. especially in a society that breeds a ‘take, take, take’ mentality’, maybe we have forgotten what it looks like to receive and learn from others. and so maybe we can see discussion as an art we can recapture, the art of what it looks like to be the receiver as well as the giver. that we too don’t always have to be right. that we too can embrace the ‘divinity in the differences’ and see that if a rainbow or the season of autumn had only one color to offer it would be a pretty boring thing.

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