Beginning from the End

We begin so many conversations from the end; from our conclusions. I find this to be unhelpful both when we agree and when we disagree. When we agree we assume the journey that was travelled was either the same or very similar…this, of course, allows us to swim in very shallow waters. The second problem with this is that the underlying fundamental belief that brought us (or, at the least, was our foundation) to our conclusion(s) may be diametrically opposed and therefore our conclusions are incompatible with each other!

What, then, with ones we are in disagreement? The inherent danger is that to argue backwards from differing conclusions is that it is nearly impossible to make an argument (convincingly) from a premise that the other sees as fundamentally flawed.

So, then, where do we begin? I would argue that we must begin at the last place that we found mutual footing (keeping in mind the problem with agreeing from above), this becomes our common ground that we can at any moment return in order to reorient or return to civility.

Today, we are inundated with memes, sloganeering, and bumper stickers that contain polemic conclusions and no effort to help bring about understanding and mutual appreciation for the other’s view, intellect, and lifelong experience. The danger of anonymity today also plays into this..we are able to lay in wait, unseen in the fringes of the internet’s forest – sniper rifle raised just waiting to fire upon those whom you oppose. No chance for them to confront their assailant.

I recently came across a statement that we must be reminded that even though we do the vast majority of communicating with others through machines, gadgets, and objects –> we truly are interacting with subjects! (See Martin Buber’s I and Thou for a great treatise on the importance of others as subjects!)

The great tragedy of our day is that we have so many ways to communicate with each other…we’ve lost the appreciation of that time. Flippancy and shortness rule the day…gone are the days of handwritten notes and other thoughtful discourse. Text messages, tweets, Facebook status updates – these are the things that line our shallow shores.

So let’s start from the beginning – let’s start from a place of mutual adoration and appreciation for the other’s views. Respecting one another and treating them as humans and not objects to be discarded. Maybe then we’ll get some place a bit deeper and more meaningful.

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Chewsday’s Rumination: Does G_d Want Us to Fail?

RuminatingGreat title huh? Does G_d want us to fail?” I suppose that was a bit unfair since there is a part(s) to the question that I left out. The full question, I think, is: Does G_d want us to try and fail or to just not try at all?

I know that my gut response was immediately: Of course G_d wants us to try! But here is what I’m chewing on today…what if that failure is sin? What if I attempted to do something but the result of my effort is sin? Would it have been better to not have attempted it?

Now, if you know me, you’ll know that a well earned sin has never slowed me down…so I would go for it. But here is my concern…I don’t know that my proclivity for sin is so well accepted amongst the religious. What I am attempting to say is that I hear many folks in the church concerned about decisions [to the point of inactivity] because of a fear that their choice could lead to committing a sin.

Have you said, or heard someone else say, “I’m not sure if this is what G_d wants me to do or if it is just me?” Ultimately, this results in only a few folks ‘going for it.’ – Is the good LORD really playing cat and mouse with our faithfulness? Is He going to unleash hell if we run with reckless abandon after what we believe to be good and righteous?

As a father this feels familiar (though off the top of my head I don’t have a good example): I would desire that my son attempts what is good and right with fervor and excitement…even if it results in him ‘failing’ and ultimately doing something that he’s not allowed to do. I thought about an instance when he retrieved a friend’s kickball from the street because the child (younger than him) was going to run out for it…My son knew that the right thing to do was to help him (and protect him) but ultimately he failed to follow our rules for him – not going out into the street on his own!

How often do I go out into the street in order to do what is good and right? Would it be better to do nothing? My son now understands that the better choice would be to take his friend with him to get an adult to retrieve the ball…but I bless G_d that he is the type of person that will risk messing up in order to care for the people around him.

Does G_d want us to fail?