As has been stated here, one of my resolutions for 2020 was to read more books. Thank you, COVID-19, for allowing me to check that box off so early in the year.

Currently in the middle of book #15 — which I’m not quite ready to disclose, as I’m not enough of the way through to fully endorse — it’s a book about not being a “jerk” when discussing politics. Suffice it to say, I like it.

For the purposes of clear communication, allow us first to define the word “jerk.” Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, offers 6 reasons in Psychology Today why some of us may have (gleefully or not so gleefully) earned this title:

  1. You only talk about yourself.
  2. You tell offensive jokes or use offensive language.
  3. You’re pushy and intrusive.
  4. You’re mean.
  5. You show disrespect for others and their opinions.
  6. You whine and/or complain.

Lest to ensure I don’t violate the Intramuralist’s desire to never point more fingers at another than self, to be frank, many days I have done one, two, or maybe even — ghastlyall of the above. Some days I have been a “jerk.”

Thankfully, there is always more that defines each of us than those unflattering moments — a truth we often, unfortunately forget when pointing fingers.

So allow me to offer the wisdom of articulate author Eugene Cho — also the founder and visionary of “One Day’s Wages,” a grassroots movement focused on alleviating extreme global poverty. Cho encourages two thoughts/questions to ask and keep in mind when discussing politics with another — that is, if we don’t want to be a “jerk”:

  1. Help me understand what you believe.
  2. What brought you to those conclusions?

Friends, it does not matter the topic.

Look, no less, at this week’s trending topics…

  • To re-open or stay shut down…
  • Should we wear a mask in public?
  • What about when a vaccine becomes available? Can government mandate we all take it?
  • How much money should government spend to help the people? …the states? How in debt can we go?
  • I can’t focus on corona. I’m still shaken by the awful injustice that happened to Ahmaud Arbery.
  • I simply can’t stand Trump. In fact, I hate him.
  • Is Joe Biden the answer? His cognitive decline is glaring.
  • And Pelosi? Don’t get me started.
  • Then there’s Michael Flynn, Elon Musk, Tara Reade, Harry & Meghan… so many people I’m not sure I want to pay attention to.
  • And the Supreme Court… multiple decisions are coming soon. Great. One more thing to fight about.

So let me suggest we don’t… we don’t fight… that we intentionally avoid being “jerks.” After all, I’ve never known a “jerk” who was thought to have influenced the world in wonderful ways. Let’s instead keep the above thoughts/questions in mind. I hear you. I get it; it’s hard. Agreed. Note the added encouragement from Cho:

“This requires being good listeners. People who met Pope John Paul II throughout his life remarked about what an intense listener he was. It seemed that nothing else existed to him when he engaged with someone. Have you ever spoken with someone like that? If you have, I’m sure you can picture them right now and recall how they made you feel.

In any conversation, political or otherwise, each of us can choose to give the gift of listening to others. That’s good news for the future of our world.”

… giving the gift of listening…

Time to finish the book. Suffice it to say, I like it.