The What and Who of Meandering About

Monday, September 5, 2011

Drawing Lines or Building Bridges

It seems as though we have become experts in drawing lines that divide our world into nice little compartments.  Then we work overtime attempting to convince ourselves that our matrices represent the reality of the world in which we live.

With our work completed, we gather in groups surrounded by our same-minded compatriots and wag our fingers and shake our fists at those standing on the other side of our imaginary lines of demarcation.  We then arrogantly congratulate ourselves about our "rightness" and the absurd "wrongness" of those "over there."

Unfortunately, this line drawing often leads to paranoia and shouting in all directions because we find that our complicated lines have effectively isolated ourselves from everyone else.

We see the fruit of this labor all around us. It exists in our government, our congregations, our businesses and our families. Our arrogance and pathological need to be right ultimately leads to destruction of self and community.

I would never advocate for wishy-washy sameness or unimaginative neutrality. Our ideas, opinions, perspectives, convictions and belief sets are vitally important. They give us a place to stand. They help us make sense of the world around us.

However, I also strongly believe it is critically important that we understand the dangers lurking within the process. We must know that there are great risks in becoming overconfident in our abilities to label and categorize each and every individual.

What if instead of being so concerned about our "rightness" and insisting that everyone else understand the depth to which we are right, we first practiced courage, compassion and humility? Courage to stand up for the right of another human being to have an opinion with which we disagree. Compassion to reach out to those who are alienated, despised, demonized and hated because of their beliefs and convictions. Humility to empower others to speak and be heard even when the ideas and thoughts are difficult to digest.

What if we forgot about self and began the process of building bridges instead of drawing lines?

I pray that I might find the courage to do just that.

Grant me, O sovereign God, the courage to stand up; the compassion to reach out; and the humility to admit that I may once again be wrong. Amen.

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