I can’t say with certainty when it started, but the last several years have marked an increased angry, arguing, and divided people in our nation. A lot of it, of course, goes back to Donald Trump and his presidency. However, since taking office the current administration has also led to a great deal of division, controversy, and anger among the American people.
The anger, controversy, and division is wide and with many people also deep. Family members, longtime friends, fellow workers, and committed Christians too often engage with one another with a lack of mutual respect and an unwillingness to listen to those with whom they disagree. Name calling, abusive language, and insults doesn’t contribute anything to thoughtful discussion.
A factor that adds fuel to the fire so to speak is that some people think and act like they know more than anyone else does. Arrogance usually doesn’t make someone easier to listen to or agree with. Nor is it something that is attractive to others.
The absence of humility and common courtesy in some of our discussions, along with excessive and exaggerated claims and criticism, do not contribute to thoughtful and respectful exchanges in our conversations about things that divide us, lead to anger, or result in intense arguing.
Unfortunately, some people feel they are being rejected when someone does not agree with their position. Just because we do not agree with someone does not mean we think less of them.
As I have watched others (mostly on TV) debate and argue about so much I have usually ended up unsettled and discouraged. I have also been challenged to think about how I should discuss things and engage with family, friends, and others.
Here are some results of my thinking you may find helpful:
Don’t take the bait. Some people are fired up and intense when they discuss controversial things–what they want is to argue. I try not to take the bait.
Refrain from becoming angry–anger rarely is helpful and often is unhelpful.
Be respectful–listen to what is being said without interrupting.
Don’t be overly aggressive trying to change someone’s mind–many people have their own opinion and we should refrain from demeaning them.
Be gracious–if possible, agree to disagree.
None of us on our own can do away with controversy, division, different opinions, or anger. Being unsettled and discouraged by some of it is probably natural. What we can do is manage ourselves and how we conduct ourselves when we disagree.
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