Here’s an interesting site – Arguing as friends – dedicated to civil discourse in the area of politics. I found it by checking if a search for “Arguing with Friends” has yet made it to the first page of Google. It has not. I choose not to be jealous of the fact that this site is on the first page and mine is still on the second!
While Arguing with Friends is about civil discourse in general, presented in the context of sharing your faith, the same principles apply to any significant conversation (as I suggest in my book). The Arguing as friends website, for instance, outlines four basic principles that are imperative to civil discourse:
- Exercise humility
- Seek to understand
- Be respectful
- Take responsibility for what you say
I can hardly disagree with that! In this election season in the USA we shall see much of what the author (Michael Austin) bemoans, yelling a lot and shutting up. In other words people will fall into two errors; some will think the message is more important than manners and others will think the message cannot possibly be presented with manners and so refuse to engage. People make the same mistake with respect to religious dialogue as well. May Mr. Austin succeed in his goal of changing that paradigm in the world of politics.
The author of the site also includes a quote from an obvious hero, Judge Thomas B. Griffith. I leave you with the same quote for considering.
Disagreement is critical to the well-being of our nation. But we must carry on our arguments with the realization that those with whom we disagree are not our enemies; rather, they are our colleagues in a great enterprise. When we respect each other enough to respond carefully to argument, we are filling roles necessary in a republic.