Searching For Relevance
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Well, the final Presidential debate is now behind us as we move toward the finish line of what has been a vitriolic, and at times ridiculous, campaign season. Thank goodness!!! We have witnessed behavior laced with immaturity, underscored by obscene remarks, that would have gotten most of us suspended from school, and certainly disciplined by our mothers and fathers. I know this would have been the case in my childhood household. It has been disappointing, to say the least. Soon, however, it will be over and that’s when the damage will need to be repaired as the real work begins, regardless of who wins.
Why? Because this election has only led to a greater exacerbation of the separation we are already aware of in our society. And it will require the “best” from each of us, to heal the hostile divisions that currently feel so raw.
How might this be accomplished and what part might we play in achieving understanding, accommodation and civility once again? By listening to each other before talking in order to find the kind of common ground that will provide progress for all of us. People become angry when they are not heard! Folks become upset when their concerns are dismissed or denigrated. Feelings are not “right” or “wrong”, they are simply feelings. It is what we do with our feelings that leads to life-giving or life-ending results. I may not agree with someone, but that does not give me the right to deny or dismiss how they feel. What good would it do to dismiss the feelings of someone coming to my office with a personal concern involving their job, spouse, or a challenging by saying, “That’s just stupid,” The conversation would go nowhere as emotional walls rose and the opportunity for a positive way forward vanished. This is where we are as a society, in my opinion, and the only productive way to proceed into the future is to listen with respect for one another, that together we might work toward laying the kind of foundation upon which each of us can lay our hopes and fulfill our dreams.
This is a high expectation, I know, but as the book of Proverbs so poignantly states, “People without a vision, perish.” And I choose to live and be strong!
Staff is currently planning for the time, following the inauguration of whomever becomes our next president, where we can discuss some of the issues that have been raised by this election. We believe that the church has a responsibility to witness to a different kind of living together as we hope to promote a setting for dialogue that helps us to better understand those with whom we might not necessarily agree. How this will take shape is still under discussion, however, we believe that such a ministry, by any standard is critical for the future, lest we spiral further down.
In less than three weeks the election will be over, but it will be then, that the real work begins. I can only pray that all of us will be up for the challenge.
Rev. Dr. Keith A. Haemmelmann