who will make a difference?

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #2 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

 

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States…

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2016: Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.There were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).”*

The first time I heard of Thirteen Reasons Why I was looking at a long list of titles to be read in a very short time on a syllabus for a graduate class in adolescent literature. I knew nothing about it. Fast forward some years later and I heard Netflix was turning it into a series. I wondered how they were going to turn a single adolescent novel into a series with adult appeal. Being an avid reader, I am familiar with the concept of censorship and controversial subjects. Being an educator, I am aware of being sensitive to subjects that might be better addressed at home than in a school setting. The subjects tackled in the novel are hard and frankly not something I was sure I wanted to watch. Somehow reading the words on a page wasn’t as difficult as the thought of viewing the story acted out. Being an adolescent isn’t easy, and being the parent of adolescents isn’t any easier. For those of us who have been touched by teen depression in ourselves or someone we love, the thought of watching a story about a teen who chose to end her life hits a little too close to home. 

Thirteen Reasons Why is a novel by Jay Asher. It tells the tragic story of a young teenage girl named Hannah who committed suicide and left behind a series of audio tapes explaining her reasoning behind her decision to take her own life. The tapes are delivered in order to thirteen people with whom Hannah had a relationship. Hannah tells each individual how he or she impacted her life and her decision. In the TV series, each character is shown trying to come to terms with how Hannah’s secrets could impact them and deciding whether or not Hannah’s accusations were true. 

The story raises many more questions than it answers. The producers of the show decided to tackle many teen issues in this series. Due to its popularity, there was a second season in which the story is extended and the characters continue to deal with the loss of Hannah and testifying in the trial in which Hannah’s parents try to make the case that the school should be held responsible for allowing a culture of bullying and sexual harassment to exist and for neglecting to see that Hannah was assaulted by the star athlete.

Controversy has surrounded both the book and the show. It has caused much discussion and debate around the topics brought up and how the producers decided to tell the story. Some mental health professionals were concerned that the story glossed over the need for mental health intervention. The kids interact with each other but avoid seeking adult guidance. There was concern that the show glorified suicide and used graphic seasons to gain ratings.

It took me a long while to get up enough nerve to watch the first season. I was hooked. The actors and actresses are compelling and took me right back to what it was like being awkward socially and trying to navigate the minefield of popularity and social pecking order. I remember how intense every interaction was and how it felt like every decision seemed to hold your future in the balance. I remember being the bystander when one of the social outcasts was verbally and physically assaulted in the hallway by a popular football player for the crime of being different. I remember being torn between not knowing what to do to stop it and at the same time fearing the ramifications of standing up to one of the popular people. I remember the girls who gave in to what the boys wanted in an effort to be liked and popular. I remember getting laughs by making fun of someone to the point they got someone to threaten to fight me to shut me up. Most of all I remember how alone I felt when it came to a support system for decision-making in the teen world. Some things are just too hard to talk to your parent about, and turning to fellow adolescents for advice doesn’t produce the best wisdom.

At the end of each season there is a follow up episode in which the producers, actors, and consultants are interviewed. The producers get a chance to explain why they chose to tell the story in a particular way. The audience asks questions about various aspects of the show. I wonder how many people skip those episodes? I really get the feeling that the producers of this show do a lot of research and take their job very seriously. Some may question their motives. I believe their intentions are sincere. Do they get everything right?  No. Do they make us start talking about topics that need to be addressed? I think so. Do teens have all the answers? Of course not. Do they make bad decisions? Of course they do. Do we need to do a better job of checking in with each other? I think so. 

The bottom line is we all play a role in each other’s lives. We have to ask ourselves how we can be a part of the solution. In America, suicide is one of the top ten causes of death. Among people aged 10-34 it is the second leading cause of death. How can we change this alarming trend? Can we check in on each other more often? Can we check on the strong, silent types who may be struggling quietly and go unnoticed because they aren’t drawing attention to themselves? Can we look beneath the behavior of the class comedian to recognize when humor is used as a mask for pain? Can we be slower to anger and judge, offering grace more freely? Can we do a better job of including the odd kid and checking on the lonely? Can we change the way we view mental illness so we remove the stigma surrounding it and make access to mental health as quick and affordable as medical care? Can we be brave enough to stand up to those who bully and offer support to the bullied? Can we listen without judging? Can we notice what is right with a person rather than constantly being critical? Can we do our part to make the world a little more loving and a little less scary for the souls we encounter daily? If we don’t make changing this statistic a priority who will?

Respectfully…

AST

[*https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml]

state of civility

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #1 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect. Enjoy!!]

 

A Respectful Dialogue of Current Events… a guiding principle of the Intramuralist is to express one’s opinion while respecting those who hold an alternative perspective. Such is the essence of civil discourse. If the mission of this website is to lead by example so that others will debate the issues of the day in a civil manner, is anybody following that example?

Not so much, I’m afraid. Take a look at these events over just the last 12 months since the last Guest Writer Series:

  • An employee was fired from his job for a memo he wrote challenging the effectiveness of his company’s diversity programs.
  • A white separatists rally in Charlottesville, VA turned deadly when a man intentionally drove his car into a crowd of protesters.
  • Football fields turned into political battlegrounds pitting players against fans over protests during the National Anthem.
  • A tenured law school professor was removed from teaching mandatory first-year courses after challenging racial preferences in college admissions.
  • A left-leaning magazine hired a writer away from a right-leaning magazine and then fired him after one column due to backlash from its readership.
  • Protesters hounded a cabinet member at a private dinner and another restaurant refused to serve the White House press secretary.
  • A congresswoman advocated for further harassment of administration officials.
  • The congresswoman herself was harassed in response.
  • A comedienne used vulgar profanity on her TV show to insult the president’s daughter. (She apologized, but only to women.)
  • An opinion website was hounded into deleting a column defending an actress cast to play a transgender role, leading to the columnist’s resignation.
  • Trump supporters organized a boycott of a retailer for selling “Impeach 45” clothing on its website even though it was placed online by a third party.

I could go on. It seems we can’t even get to “live and let live.” Not only do we feel the need to tell those with the opposing viewpoint how wrong they are, many of us want to hurt (either physically or financially) those on the other side. They need to pay a price for disagreeing with us. It should go without saying that is not a healthy attitude to have.

So what to do about it? A few humble suggestions:

  1. Recognize that we are all part of the problem – Your incivility may not be as bad as others’, but are you as civil as you could be? If not, you are escalating the rhetoric which can lead to harmful outcomes.
  2. Acknowledge that everyone has biases (even you) – We are all inclined to focus on (or ignore) certain data points based on our perspective. As such, we don’t always see the world as it really is.
  3. Admit that you are not always right – Even if you think you are right 99% of the time, maybe this time is part of the 1%. Allow for that possibility, and it will be easier to retract your words if you have to.
  4. Disconnect from social media – Personally, I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts a couple years ago. I find myself to be a much happier person. Even if you don’t want to totally disengage from those platforms, try going without it for a few days and experience how little you miss it.
  5. Don’t type anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face – Why is it that we are much crueler when we type things than when we’re speaking in person? Imagine that the person you’re communicating with is in the room with you when you type.
  6. Read some opinion you disagree with – Find some civil writers from the opposite side of the political spectrum and try to understand the issues of the day from their point of view. It may not change your mind, but it should change the way you interact with those you disagree with.
  7. Be honest with your self-assessment – There are some people who get an emotional high from arguing. There can be an addiction to adrenaline that comes from debating controversial issues just like any drug. If you think that might be you, seek professional help to preserve your personal relationships.
  8. Consider that Trump is a symptom, not the problem – I know, I know… some of you really, really hate Donald Trump. I’m not a big fan myself, but here’s the thing. He could not have risen to power were it not for the toxic political environment that existed before he was elected. He knows how to take advantage of uncivil discourse, but it did not start with him, and it will not go away after his presidency unless we do something about it.

Bottom line… before you speak, THINK! Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?

Respectfully…

PJM

the voices of others

When the Intramuralist began nearly 10 years ago, there were some baseline principles we vowed to embrace, such as:

All people are created equal.

Everyone’s voice is valid.

Everyone deserves respect.

Disagreement does not equate to disrespect.

How we handle disagreement matters.

Listening is a virtue.

We are each endowed by our Creator.

None of us have life all figured out (… especially since we are each endowed by someone other than self…).

Focusing on what is good and right and true is best.

Dialogue leads to both solution and growth.

Insults, ridicule, and judgment kill both solution and growth.

I’m certain there are more than the above top ten, but these are principles to which we have consistently attempted to adhere.

Have we always done so? 

Great question. Probably not.

There have been times I did not listen well. There have been times I played the judge and pointed fingers more than shared well-thought-out perspective. There have been times I, too, unfortunately, have chosen to rant and rave and perhaps even ridicule. There have been times I have thus been hypocritical. 

Such is not my desire. But I — just like you — am very imperfect.

This side of heaven — even though endowed by that Creator with certain unalienable rights — I will sometimes fail, screw up, and royally fall flat on my face. Such is the nature of being human; is it not? 

But I will not quit striving — striving for what I deeply believe to be good and right and true.

That said, one of the principles embedded in the above, is that you need not always hear from me. Other voices are valid. Other voices are pertinent. We do not all agree on all things, but that doesn’t matter. We must listen to — and learn from — one another. We are sharpened by the one who thinks differently than we. That, my friends, is part of the beauty of diversity… a beauty that too often contemporary culture fails to acknowledge.

Beginning Sunday, therefore — and continuing for the next 3-4 weeks — you will hear from some trusted, articulate friends of mine. Yes… it’s time for our 10th annual Intramuralist Guest Writers Series!an opportunity to hear from multiple individuals from multiple perspectives… men and women hailing from varied ethnicities and demographics. Please know: the opinions shared may or may not be held equally by me… but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we listen well to one another.

We can learn much if we actually listen to another; hence, this thought-provoking series will feature multiple guest writers sharing unique perspective regarding what’s going on in our world. You will hear about the Supreme Court, civility, some alarming suicide statistics, and far more. Feel free to agree, disagree, engage, and ask questions of them. Simply, as always, be respectful in your response.

Respectful…

Indeed… may our respect for one another — imperfect as we each are — always be intentional and clear. It is both a privilege and joy to be on this journey with you.

Blessings, friends…

AR

20 questions

Ok, ok… just rambling today, but questions I have that no one has answered yet to any degree of satisfaction… most of which have been shared or first offered by others…

What happened to Amelia Earhart?

How moral was John F. Kennedy?

Who was truly responsible for killing him?

Why is it that we often romanticize celebrities after their death?

Why do psychics have to ask you your name?

What don’t we know about 9/11?

Why do many refer to porn actors/actresses as “adult film stars”?

Why can’t we listen better?

Are all individuals valued under socialism?

What exactly is a “Buckeye”?

Has Facebook jumped the shark?

What about “Grey’s Anatomy”?

Why did they ever let Derek die?

Why do professional athletes get paid more than teachers?

Why do some feel that faith and science are contradicting?

Why do we resist God, especially if he knows what’s best?

If money doesn’t grow on trees, why do banks have branches?

Why do we feel like one political party is so much more moral than the other?

Can a funeral home raise the cost of burial and then blame the increase on the cost of living?

Where are each of us judgmental, but (most likely) don’t know it?

Great questions. I do love the question.

Remember that the question mark is the only punctuation piece that begs a response… that actually invites a reply.

I’m thus inclined to believe that if we were intentional about inviting a reply, our conversations and dialogue would be vastly improved…

We would listen better… hear better… and work more efficiently toward solution…

… even if discussing the actual whereabouts of Amelia Earhart.

Where is she by the way?

Respectfully…

AR

suspicion or trust?

What do you lead with?

If there’s space between you and me, what do you lead with?

I’ve thought of this many times… if there’s space between you and me, something has to fill it…

If there’s space between a father and a son…

… between a husband and wife…

… between a girlfriend and boyfriend…

… between an employer and employee…

… between friends…

… between coworkers…

… between Facebook “friends” or Instagram “followers”…

What fits in the so-called in between?

What do you lead with?

One of my favorite sayings in the healthy community we have become a part of since our recent move, is that: “we will fill the gap with trust.”

That means when there is space between us…

… when I don’t understand…

… when I don’t know what’s going on… 

… when my perspective is limited…

… when their perspective is limited…

when we disagree

When any of those things are between us, I choose not to fight… to offend nor be offended…

I choose not to judge, point fingers, or criticize… even when that’s easiest to do.

Let’s note that it is suspicion that leads to judgment and criticism. So do I fill the gap with suspicion… or with trust? It’s either one or the other.

Say the wise words of Atlanta’s Andy Stanley:

“We have a tendency to put suspicion in the gap. Patrick Lencioni, in the book ‘The Advantage,’ talks about the fundamental attribution error. ‘It is the tendency to attribute the negative or frustrating behaviors of colleagues to their intentions and personalities.’ So if someone does something to create a gap, this error leads us to believe that it is something that is fundamentally wrong with their personality or character. (He was late because he is lazy.) On the other hand, when we do something to create a gap, we attribute it to environmental issues. (I am late because traffic was bad.) You cut yourself slack but not others.

[emphasis mine]

It seems to me we are living in a culture where many are encouraging the placing of suspicion in the gap; many cut slack only for self and the likeminded.

Yet wisdom calls us elsewhere; wisdom calls us to fill the gap with trust.

Granted, as Stanley shares, sooner or later, “Trust runs out. At that point, something has to change. Conversations have to take place sooner rather than later. If you find yourself driving home having imaginary conversations in your head with the other person about these trust gaps, it is time to have a conversation in real life. You need to sit down and tell the person about the existence of the trust gap and understand the cause. Lencioni writes, ‘When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing more than the pursuit of truth in an attempt to find the best possible answer.’”

I thus so desire the conversation.

I so desire finding a better way.

I desire deflating the intensity of the conflict.

And I desire filling the gap with trust.

Respectfully…

AR

unprecedented sportsmanship

Two people.

One object.

Two people can look at one object and see it in totally different ways…

… sometimes in ways that seem contradicting… in ways in which we wonder how another ever possibly could have arrived at his or her perspective…

Enter high school baseball as today’s example…

Last month there was one Minnesota sectional championship game which was especially notable. The game featured Totino-Grace vs. Mounds View — the Eagles vs. the Mustangs.

What made this game remarkable was how it ended.

Mounds View pitcher Ty Koehn faced the final batter in Totino-Grace’s Jack Kocon. Ty struck out Jack to end the game.

With the final out, the Mustangs of Mounds View enthusiastically stormed the field, celebrating their well-earned coveted championship. They all spontaneously gathered near the pitching mound — that is, all except Ty Koehn.

Unlike the rest of his team, Ty instead rushed off the mound toward the batter’s box. He was there to console his opponent, Jack Kocon.

As reported by Minnesota site Bring Me The News, Ty said: 

“We are very close friends. Knew him from all the way back when we were 13. We were on the same Little League team. It was tough when we went to separate schools, but we kept in touch.

I knew the game was going to keep going or it was going to end right there. I knew I had to say something. Our friendship is more important than just the silly outcome of a game. I had to make sure he knew that before we celebrated.”

Look at this teen… so aware of what’s most important… so aware that opposition doesn’t have to be vicious nor divisive. And yet two people… one object… seeing things in totally different ways…

Note the tweeted reaction of others… but especially noted, the reaction of adults…

“This makes me shake with rage the more I see it. As I said elsewhere, this offends me as a youth football coach who preaches killer instinct to my players. I would make a player who did this hold his championship ring as I blowtorch it and melt it, because he doesn’t deserve it.”

“This is absolutely embarrassing. You have 1 moment to celebrate with your teammates who busted their tails w/ you, and you’re going to console a friend who’s upset? Kid is about as soft as it gets. Winners win and embrace it. Take this garbage somewhere else.”

“Call me old and crotchety (it’s probably true), but I personally find this ridiculous. The pitcher should be celebrating with his teammates. He can call or text his friend later and take him out for “milk shakes” at some point this summer.”

Wow… killer instinct… garbage… soft… ridiculous…

After a show of unprecedented sportsmanship, adults attempt to explain why empathetic behavior is wrong.

Have we soured so much in picking our teams, embracing division, and need to win, that we can no longer see what is good and right and true?

… that we can no longer see what we have in common?

… and that empathy and compassion are good?

Maybe we, too, need the younger generation to remind us of what is good.

Respectfully…

AR

the older man

Last week I witnessed the most feisty exchange…

A middle-aged man pulled his pickup truck into the nearest Publix parking spot. There was nothing unusual nor outstanding about the guidance of his vehicle. He was somewhat close to the gold sedan to his left, although the proximity had zero to do with driver error; the car to his right was hugging the line, so-to-speak, and there was simply minimal space with which to maneuver his vehicle. 

The driver of the gold sedan had exited the grocery and was entering his car as the pickup driver came to a halt. He was an older gentleman, and noticing the pickup driver’s closeness, he paused all movement. In fact, he reversed his perceived intention — stopped getting into his car, got totally out, and shut his door. The gold sedan owner awaited confrontation with the pickup driver.

As the pickup driver got out of his car, the older man approached him…

“You know, my wife was almost hit here twice last week.”

The pickup driver — who seemed nothing short of surprised that this stranger would engage — humbly responded, seemingly desiring to honor his elders… 

“Excuse me?”

To which the sedan driver repeated his concern, only more animatedly and adamantly…

“My wife was almost hit here twice last week! Two people almost hit her!”

He was angry… most likely, no doubt, sincerely angry.

I have to applaud the younger man’s reaction. He paused… stayed present… listened to the man’s concern… even affirmed his concern… and before walking away, he wished the older man well.

The older man never calmed down. It also did not rattle the younger.

I’ve thought of this each day since…

The older man was mad — his wife had almost been hurt.

The younger man parked nearby — but he did nothing wrong nor intentionally offensive.

But the younger man was closest…

… closest…

And so the older man reacted by taking his anger out upon the one who was closest.

Obviously, it was not the younger man’s fault that the older man’s wife had been endangered in the week prior. 

Obviously, the older man had reason to be concerned.

But in our concern, how often do we take it out on the person who is closest?

How often do we let our emotions fly not necessarily on the one who is responsible? … but rather on the one who is easiest to rail upon?

And the hardest question today… that I ask with all humble sincerity…

How often is that me?

How often am I the older man?

Respectfully…

AR

it’s all Greek to me

It’s true. I can be a bit of a nerd. 

Please… don’t agree so fast. 

Maybe it’s better said that I’m always a student… always learning… always attempting to figure life out. In fact, one of my bottom lines in life is that none of us have life all figured out this side of heaven; in fact, we are each — frankly — incapable. Hence, may all of us, always, be learning and growing — and have at least a little nerd within us.

One of my favorite, nerdier-perceived pursuits is my decades long study of the Greek. No doubt — no where close — I am no expert… although I would at least stand a chance if “Jeopardy’s ‘Daily Double’” fell in the convenient category of “Ancient Greek Roots” (… true, “NFL Superstars” would serve me far better).

Last week, no less, in my pursuit of knowledge, I uncovered a fascinating find… one that made me stop, reflect, and contemplate what current culture has captured and missed…

I was diving into this idea of how we are to treat one another — and specifically, the appeal of “bearing with one another in love.”

We all get the love idea… not that we’re always good at it. In fact…

We tend to be selective or withhold it or somehow justify why loving a certain other well isn’t necessary nor right. I’ll be honest; that practice doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I get it… we get angry or hurt or feel wronged — and maybe it really is all the other person’s fault. But the failure to love well typically only hurts the withholder, as unfortunately, bitterness tends to then swell so swiftly on the inside. I don’t wish to live with a bitterness that burns primarily on the inside. I wish to learn and grow.

So “bearing with”… that’s the key action point here…

What does it mean? … to bear with one another in love?

Check out the Greek, friends…

Straight from the Greek, written at least a couple thousand years ago:

ἀνέχω…. (transliteration: anechō; pronunciation: ä-ne’-khō)

Look what’s in the meaning:

To sustain, to bear with, endure, with a genitive of the person (in Greek writings the accusative is more common, both of the person and of the thing), of his opinions, actions, etc.

Do you see what I see?

Do you see what’s seemingly so profound and countercultural?

… and has been around for centuries??

In the historic encouragement to bear with one another in love, there is an appeal to endure not only the person but also their opinions.

Granted, opinions can be stated without adding “you idiot” at the end of the sentence. But what’s key here is that if we are going love other people well, we are also going to be accepting of different opinion.

I’m thinking this isn’t going out on too much of a limb here… but in at least on our social media behavior, we have much to learn.

Respectfully…

AR

a too often used title…

Oh, the games people play…

(Did I not say a too often used title?)

There’s a vacancy on the Supreme Court. I really, really hate to say this, but I tend to think that an open seat evokes the worst in us… especially in the establishment, so-to-speak.

On a February of 2016 morning, sitting Justice Antonin Scalia was found unresponsive. He was at a Texas ranch, and reportedly died in his sleep. His death was considered shocking and tragic.

Then Pres. Obama did what all sitting presidents are called to do; he nominated a successor.

The succeeding nominee was D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland.

The Republicans, who at that time had a majority in the Senate — the confirming body for Supreme Court justices — refused to hold any hearings on the prospect of Garland’s confirmation. Insisting that the next elected president should fill the vacancy (which albeit, seemed a colossal long-shot at the time), they ignored the Garland nomination.

Oh, the games people play…

With the closing of the recent Supreme Court session, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. At age 81, the ending of his tenure was not unexpected, as it had been rumored for months.

Then Pres. Trump did what all sitting presidents are called to do; he nominated a successor.

The current, succeeding nominee is Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who also serves on the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

The Democrats, who at this time are a minority in the Senate — rushed to denounce the nomination. In fact, they denounced the nomination before they even knew who it was.

Oh, the games people play…

Friends, I realize this will be one of my more unpopular posts. We are not very fond when a group we identify with or typically support is highlighted as having behaved in an unscrupulous manner. The reality certainly seems as if two men of integrity were/are being opposed by established parties acting with a lack of integrity.

The role of the Supreme Court — the highest federal court in the land — is to determine what is — and is not — constitutional. That’s it. It’s really that simple.

And yet our legislators — on both sides of the aisle — are playing politics with who sits on that court.

Yes, I hear you…

Oh, you don’t understand…

The reason they acted this way is because of ______  [your choice — fill in the blank]…

Yeah, but they did it first…

And the schoolyard retorts remain in full refrain.

Note some of the votes of those before them…

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, confirmed 96-3…
  • John Roberts, confirmed 78-22…
  • Sonia Sotomayor, confirmed 68-31…

Many were confirmed unanimously — Scalia and Kennedy included. Certainly, political differences existed, but integrity was still intact. 

I desire something better, friends. Something purer. I care less about ideological agreement than about integrity in the process.

Currently, I’m not sure I see that in either established party.

Oh, the games people play…

Now whether or not we can identify more than one of the game players…

Respectfully…

AR

I’m offended…

Some sweet, extended family members went out Friday evening for dinner and a quick errand. Dinner was great, but then, after venturing in and out of Pet Smart, one of them started to back up the truck…

… and he hit her.

“Her” was a young gal in her lower-sitting sedan. 

Daily, no doubt, conflict exists. We run into trouble with people who get in our way, who inconvenience us… hit us… hurt us… even cause damage.

Maybe the damage is minimal — just a fender bender, perhaps — but maybe it’s more… it can feel so harsh! Maybe, in fact, it’s simply their existence that we find so damaging to what we are trying to do or where we are attempting to go.

In so many places and pockets these days, we find persons unwilling to tolerate even the existence of another. How many times have we read a social media thread where someone calls someone else out, simply saying, “STOP!”…

I’m offended! … you and your opinion are not welcome here.

I’m offended! … that is not an angle I will allow to be discussed.

I’m offended! … you are ignorant; no need for civility with you.

The sequence starts with offense.

Observe once more our family members and their accident…

The damage was minor, but damage nonetheless; both parties had cause — justified grounds — for offense. But notice what they chose…

As they awaited for the police to arrive, my family members began to converse with the twenty-something female driver of a car that was “pretty blue and fairly new.”

While engaging in interactive, listening-oriented dialogue, they quickly found common ground. The gal works at my family’s doctor’s office.

The common ground brought trust, and so they spoke more. And more. Even though the setting had all the potential for opposition and offense, they chose otherwise, knowing the issue would be mended faster and better if they could see something good or common in the other.

After all information was exchanged and the police had finished making record of the accident, see the reaction of those involved, before they resumed their evenings as planned:

“… she said she felt like us literally running into each other was a ‘God-thing,’ as she loved having the opportunity to talk with us. She said she felt like God allowed that little accident to happen just so we had that time together.

The policeman even told us both how nice it was to deal with people who weren’t all irate and screaming at each other…”

So often we choose to be offended. We have grounds; our offense is justified. 

But what if we chose otherwise?

Said the family:

“Their comments touched my heart, and it just goes to show you how our words and reactions to a situation can make all the difference in the world. This turned out to be a positive experience rather than a negative one, because of their reactions…

An experience I will never forget… it brought tears to my eyes.”

Choosing not to be offended… finding common ground… listening… still dealing with the issue but in an honoring-of-all kind of way…

What a positive experience.

Respectfully…

AR