Keep the Conversation Going …

28 08 2009

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, we once again excerpt from Dan Merchant’s book as a discussion starter. Let us know what you think …

To me, the division of America, this separateness, isn’t getting any of us anywhere. And both sides are making the same mistake: they think the so-called culture war is a winnable war. Some think, eventually, one side will win out over the other. I don’t see it that way.
Dan in the City
I’m concerned that calling it a culture war presumes a few things, like, if it’s a war there is an enemy. This kind of adversarial posture serves to further entrench us in our own positions. The sad fact is our country is polarized because we like it that way. It so much simpler to pretend the world is black and white. An “us versus them” attitude is just simpler than critical self-reflection and allows us to blame the Other.

It’s funny because I see bumper stickers as a symptom of the disease. A bumper sticker is, quite possibly the weakest, most strident form of communication possible – because of its one-way nature. In this information age, communication styles are more influential than ever. I’ve identified four primary ways that have, seemingly, become the accepted ways we communicate our ideas, both through the media and in person.

• Myopia—our communication conveys our point of view exclusively. While our facts may be accurate, we lack context and ultimately, understanding by ignoring any information that doesn’t put forward our agenda.

• Hyperbole—our communication again conveys our point of view, but we exaggerate the facts and distort the available information to create an intellectually dishonest, and possibly, more persuasive case for our agenda.

• Hysteria—our communication conveys our point of view in an emotional and aggressive manner based primarily on our feelings, what we want to be true and our blind desire to be right and see our agenda come to fruition.

• Truth—our communication conveys as balanced a review of the facts as possible, including the weaknesses to our position and the strengths of the Other’s position. The goal of this communication is the illumination of reality and, in this case, our agenda considers the well being of all people, not just those who agree with me.

Want to know my favorite thing about truth? It’s tough to fit on a bumper sticker.

Excerpt from “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” by Dan Merchant
© 2008 Dan Merchant, Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers

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