There are some conversations that are futile – there is no sense in participating in such conversations. You are only going to be wasting breath and getting frustrated.
I classify most political commentary in this category. Listen to a political radio commentary for about five minutes and you’ll understand. I do this every now and then just to hear what the partisan “gospel” is currently being spewed. It’s good to know what others in society are thinking – even when you don’t agree.
You can get the same reaction when you surf the internet. I usually get my news updates from a variety of sources in opposition to each other. I check CNN and Fox News, Real Clear Politics and Politico. These offer me a good variety of stories coming from very different perspectives. Often, I’m more interested in seeing which stories are missing, rather than what is there. What’s missing is usually pretty telling and offers more news and commentary than any of the articles ever could. Generally if a major news story is missing, it means the partisan hacks haven’t figured out the spin to try to explain it away yet.
When I listed to the radio partisan hacks, I listen to hear what the spin is for their favored party or politician – and there is always some excuse for their “guy” or party and something to blame on the other party. Always. Without fail. Their team can do no wrong ever. And when there is something inconveniently truly bad for their side, well, then you can be sure that there will be disparaging remarks and personal attacks on the opposition. It’s actually quite predictable. Which is why you only need about five minutes to listen.
Of course, this happens in other areas of life too – sports is a great example. Just try talking with a die-hard fan of any team. Good luck getting anywhere.
Religion fits this category too. Religion is prone to this because it often dwells in areas of truth. And there are some who value truth over anything else – their version of truth anyway. Orthodoxy of thought becomes the most important thing. It is their way or the highway. Never mind that the person making this determination is just as broken as everyone else.
What is it about being right all the time that drives people to put aside everything else? What is it about showcasing how wrong your opponents are, even in light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?
Why do people do this? Does it have to do with a person’s identity? Does it have to do with power – who has it and who is trying to get it? Does it have to do with privilege? Does it have to do with beliefs? Does it have to do with status in society? What is it?
I know this much – I’m a bit tired of it. Very tired of it actually.
Can I be bull-headed at times – sure. Am I convinced I am right on any given subject – of course and so are you. But here’s the thing. I want to have conversations with people who see the world differently. I want to learn how people come to their conclusions. I assume I can learn something from them. I may not agree or change my mind, but what will happen is that I will gain an understanding of a different perspective and see the humanity in the opposition.
I think the biggest thing that bothers me about people who make being right into an idol is this – they make no effort to see the humanity of those they disagree with. There is no effort to see that someone could come to a different conclusion for what are typically very good reasons. There is no effort to learn – only protect their own opinions as God-given truth. There is no variation. There is no growth. There is only blame, shame, name-calling, putting up walls, and demands. You can’t have a conversation with someone like this. And that’s the frustrating thing for me. It becomes an all or nothing event. It’s about only two options – a binary “conversation” of right and wrong. There is no sliding scale with these folks. And unless you buy everything, then you are considered the enemy.
I suppose this isn’t going to change anytime soon. So I’ll keep listening for a few minutes to hear what people are being fed. I’ll keep looking for the news that is missing on the web. And I’ll keep talking with people who want to actually have a conversation.
As for those who are only interested in being right, and not actually listening or talking – well…I don’t have time for such nonsense. Call me names if you want. Shout out how wrong I am. While you’re busy doing that, I’ll be busy living out the Gospel – loving people, serving, caring for people who need care, talking with people who want to talk, sharing Good News, visiting people, etc. Mr. Partisan Radio guy, maybe you should try it sometime. You claim to be a Christian. Why not build up the Body of Christ, rather than tear down those you disagree with? Why not ask for forgiveness when you are wrong? Why not do something productive? Why not see the humanity in others? There’s a whole big world out there that goes beyond the binary us and them. It can be scary, but it’s a beautiful world Mr. Partisan Radio guy. A beautiful big world that doesn’t operate on your binary either or perspective. There is much to learn.