A Failure To Communicate

18 09 2009

This great article from today’s Charlotte Observer about a “rebellion against rudeness” not only includes quotes from Dan Merchant, it got us even more excited about that Lord, Save Us From Your Followers opens in ONE WEEK (September 25)!

We thought it would be fun to share some of Dan’s thoughts on today’s communication style … or lack thereof!

Our communication model is broken. In the consumer culture that is 21st Century America, we’ve been trained to accept ad slogans, labels, sound bites, tweets, and bumper-sticker slogans as adequate. These micro-blips of information reduce the complexity of an issue, strip essential meaning from it and, ultimately, snuff out conversation.

“Coke: It’s the Real Thing” doesn’t invite you into a dialogue about the pros and cons of Coke or a discussion on the attributes of an alternative like Royal Crown Cola; it just says, “Buy a Coke.

“God Said Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” doesn’t address the financial, legal, or social issues attendant to the same-sex marriage question or invite a dialogue on complex issue; it just says, “Shut up already.”

This simplistic, one-way communication style we’ve developed seems to give us permission to be close-minded and dismissive. We see it on the cable news outlets, on the talk-radio shows, at most public protests (regardless of who is fighting for what). In short, I’m arguing that it DOES matter how you tell the story.

To create a group called Value Voters infers that everybody else is without values. Perhaps that was not the intention, but that message is absolutely inherent in the communication. I’m starting a group called Married White Guys Who Don’t Sell Their Children to Support a Crack Habit. I’m not sure if you will qualify, but feel free to submit your application.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell once explained that the name, Moral Majority, didn’t mean to infer that everyone else was the Immoral Minority, but that’s what it sounded like, and, that is how people took it. So if the result of the communication yields an incorrect or inaccurate perception, we should consider a new way to explain the story.

Now, of course, both US and THEM are guilty of this reductionism. But if we’re trying to live like Jesus, represent him then we have to elevate our game. You can scream “Theocracy” or “The Religious Right is Subverting the Constitution” or “I Will Fight the Hollywood Agenda” or “We Must Win this Battle to Reclaim America”, and the nature of this strident, confrontational language, makes us all feel like we’re in the right and my enemy will be defeated.

And there it is, this one-way communication creates enemies rather than dealing with the issues or, more importantly, demonstrating Christ’s love.

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

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