This topic has been on my mind a lot. I think it shows in the history of this blog. The nearly two years of this blog are littered with topics on the dangers of our insistence on being right. Our refusal to compromise. Our refusal to admit when we are wrong. And our refusal to admit when we don't know.
More recently, Brother Paul's sermon brought it back to the forefront, with the passage in James showing that true wisdom is willing to yield. It is open to reason.
"Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason [willing to yield], full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
This makes me pause and reflect. Am I willing to yield? Is my wisdom of the type that could be described as pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, willing to yield?
Am I willing to debate? And not in the sense of screaming at each other, with entrenched positions, designed only to make myself look better, smarter, more informed? Am I really willing to engage in conversation? To hear other points of view? To actually consider them?
Am I open to having my mind changed? Even on things that I may have considered sacred? Am I willing to evaluate those sacred cows to see if they are essential, or just preferential?
And this goes in every realm of life.
Am I willing to admit that Republicans have good policies and Democrats make mistakes? For entrenched conservatives, are you willing to admit that Democrats make good policies and are acting in what they believe is the best interest of this country? Likewise, are you willing to admit that Republicans overreact, make bad policies, make mistakes, and sometimes look out for personal interests over country?
Am I as a Christian willing to concede points to atheists on theological debates, when the matters concern non-essentials of the faith? Atheists, are you willing to concede that there are matters far beyond our comprehension, and questions that will remain un-answered regarding spiritual issues?
Am I as a person of faith willing to admit that science may better explain how the universe was created and functions? And as a person of science, am I willing to admit that faith offers a better explanation as to why?
With issues of faith, am I willing to discuss differing interpretations and positions with fellow believers without drawing a right/wrong line? Without falling into an us versus them trap? To recognize that we both may be right and we both may be wrong, and possibly all at the same time?
As a white person, am I willing to yield to people of color when it comes to issues of racial disparity? To acknowledge that the issues they raise do exist? Such as those raised by black lives matter?
Am I willing to judge other groups by their best examples and myself by my worst intentions, instead of the other way around?
Am I willing to listen to traditionally oppressed groups and treat their concerns with validity and respect?
I hope I am. I hope that my willingness to ask questions reflects a willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue and debate. That I am open to having my mind change. I believe I am, but I also know and recognize that I have biases and blindspots that I may not recognize (another question coming up).
We as a society need to be able to compromise again. To be able to have our minds changed. To be able to grow. To learn.
It makes our world bigger and opens new possibilities. I pray we have not become as hardened and as entrenched as it first may seem. I still believe in the power of conversation. Maybe not on a mass scale; that dialogue may be lost thanks to the commercial based news cycle. But individually, one-on-one, I have to believe we can help each other see the other side. To understand each other. To reach each other.
If we are just willing to engage in a meaningful way.