Last night was the First Presidential Debate of this Election season. Up until now we have heard so many commercials and political ads made in order to sway us towards one side or another. They have also gone around making political speeches in many different places. Presidential Election season always seems to bring out the worst in people, because people become so wrapped up in politics I often view them as unapproachable about most anything other than politics. I often tend to stay away from political arguments because I find them pointless and meaningless to always just argue about things. Arguing does not get us anywhere. In fact it hinders being able to do things, because we spend time arguing with each other. Now I am not going to pass judgement on who I think won the Presidential Debate here because this is not a political blog and I would like to keep politics outside of this blog. Instead I will focus on something I have noticed in the debate and throughout the entire election process this time around.
Being in seminary during a Presidential election is a very interesting experience. It is interesting because in my life I have never met a group of more opinionated people in my life. In seminary everyone feels a certain way and wants to express it. Now that is not a bad thing. I think that the fact that people in seminary actually care about what is going on in our country is great and I sometimes enjoy discussions about issues. I think it is important to be able to have good discussion on topics people may not agree with. However we need to remember it is a discussion and not an argument (I know I sometimes even forget this idea). This may sound like just semantics and I agree, but it is semantics that can mean the difference between hurting someone and helping someone. When we argue we run the risk of hurting other people’s feelings or offending them. Arguing gets us no where. It makes people yell and get louder and louder and the discussion goes into to insulting each other rather than talking about the actual issue and how one feels about that issue. This often might show a level of disrespect towards the person that you are arguing with.
However, the difference between arguing and a discussion is the a level headed way to talk to a person, and it allows people to calmly discuss what is going on. In a discussion each person listens to the other and each persons voice is well heard. There is no bashing of what the other person believes or the other persons viewpoints are. I think this is important because instead of hearing what I believe from someone else I get to hear what the other person believes themselves.
In the Bible we hear about respect for one another, and as I see the way that our current political system run I feel like people are not really respectful to each other. In the area of debate last night I heard a lot of what each candidate would do to help the country but i also heard a lot about what one person thinks the other person is doing. Imagine if during a debate candidates could only talk about what they would do and could not talk about there opponents plan at all. Imagine if instead of arguments we had discussions
I encourage to keep in mind during this election season and beyond to keep in mind how you are portraying ideas to others. Are you arguing or discussing? Are you being disrespectful? How do you think the other person feels at this point? As a Christian I try to keep these ideas in mind as I talk about theology and political ideals. I am not saying that this is easy in the least bit and I am not saying that I am perfect at it. However, I am saying that I try and strive to be more of a discussion based person. This is about being intentional about who we are and to make sure that no matter what we are doing that we are reflecting the love of God in whatever we do.