Author’s Note: Although some might hear my voice in this post as loud, it’s a whispering post.
The “discussions” I’ve read and listened to lately and a few I’ve participated in leave me wondering, “What in the world happened to common courtesy and respect?”
And it’s not just from one segment of our world. The shouting and disrespect come from people of all ages, races, religions, all levels of education, and various political convictions.
As the discussions grow hotter and meaner, it feels like the hostile demands for discussion are: agreement, approval, and acceptance with no exclusions and at all costs.
To gain some logical grounding before exploring my internal response to these unrealistic ultimatums I turned to the dictionary.
Agreement is defined as the harmony of opinion (beliefs, convictions, ideas, thoughts, and perspectives), action, character, and course of action. There is an assumption of solidarity, understanding, empathy, rapport, sympathy, and unity. But again, only for the people who agree 100%.
Anything less demands a deadlock, stalemate or standoff. And tons of condemnation.
Why are we in such a hurry to close our hearts and minds to each other?
Then there’s approval. Before the definition, a question for all of us to consider:
If we believe we are absolutely right, why do we want and or need anyone else’s approval? Because anything less than 100% approval = 100% rejection, more condemnation, and passionate dislike?
On to the definition: backing, endorsement, vote, thumbs up, and ratification.
These days, if we don’t offer this to those who believe differently than we do, an alarm is sounded to protest, hate, condemn, call names, and make demands that require approval or else.
Or else what? Even more condemnation, unkindness, and division?
The big question here that begs an answer: Is anyone listening? Or in all the shouting have most of us stopped listening?
In the midst of this chaos of unkindness, we all lose as we sacrifice consideration, courtesy, and respect for demands wrapped in brash, sometimes indecent, demands that everyone approve of us and every single thing we do.
Which only leads to more disagreement and disapproval even if what is being said makes sense.
Here’s the truth: You don’t need my approval, and I don’t need yours. And after years of wanting it, I don’t anymore. I strove for it. Prayed for it. Yearned for it.
What a waste of time. And freedom.
It’s a willing captivity – how sad is that?
Then there’s acceptance.
I love this one! The best part of the definition is: to receive as a gift, to endure willingly or even reluctantly without protest or reaction. To care for, stand beside, bear up, enjoy, and like even in disagreement.
Acceptance is the grace (the state of being considerate and thoughtful) we offer each other even when we don’t and can’t agree or approve.
It’s choosing respect over rudeness. Love over hate. Humility over pride. Compassion over condemnation. No matter what.
Like the calling given to those of us who believe in God.
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:8-11 (NKJV)
Are my personal, spiritual, and political convictions strong? Yes, I will remain steadfast in all of them without excuse or defense unless God changes my mind.
I also realize that there is great power in words and the world needs us to use the ones that will make the most difference. God calls many of us to the podiums and printed word to do just that. And I thought at one time that was my calling. I was wrong.
Instead, He’s called me to a much quieter place that still involves words and even strong words, but words always wrapped with love and acceptance even when the things that divide me from others are great and of great importance.
To some my silence is cowardly, but I have to tell you – being quiet when I want to speak my disagreement loudly takes more courage than I ever thought possible. Telling someone in a lowered tone of voice, “I respectfully disagree,” instead of giving a point by point counter opinion, is my response to God’s tender whisper, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
I’d rather clench my jaw and my fists and speak out.
Instead, His call on me is to whisper boldly.
For me, this is not just difficult; it is impossible without the loving conviction of God.
A note on all these definitions – according to Webster, agreement, approval, and acceptance can be synonyms of each other. But I wonder if in making them the same, we weaken them the same way we dilute each other’s importance when we demand approval and agreement and demand acceptance before we offer it.
Just a quiet thought.
Until Next Time,