By: Dennis Bates
Note: You will notice I’m not Staci. I know that, and I’m sure she does too. I’m covering for her today so she can handle some other matters. Those of you that were looking forward to my buddy because it’s her regular day can feel free to ignore me, or give me a shot. Your call. Staci will be back. Promise.
My father gave me one piece of advice that has stuck with me since he gave it. “Son,” he said, “with a mouth as big as yours is, you’d better develop thick skin, and you’d better be able to receive as well as you give.” Now my dad didn’t give me a lot of advice, so when he did, I usually listened because he had something to say. This piece of advice was no exception.
Those of you who are opinionated and often empty your clip before you find a target, repeat after me: “I have a big mouth but I can change, if I have to, I guess.” (With apologies to Red Green and his other lodge buddies.) I feel much better now. I hope you do too.
That doesn’t mean I always follow my dad’s advice. (Read, now I plan to go forth and open my mouth boldly.) A very recent exchange of opinions with a cyber friend is a perfect example. Just to set the stage a little: I used to think that the Iowa farmers I grew up around were ultra conservative, pig headed and stubborn. I still do for that matter, but I have discovered that Texas ranchers would be worthy opponents for any of them, and I would love to get a group of both in the same room some time and just watch them interact. Hey, maybe that could be a new reality show. Maybe not.
Anyway, this rancher and I have exchanged several emails about the intricacies of economic theory, the role of big business in government and big government itself. To put it bluntly, we don’t agree all that much, but I’m a big enough person to allow for the fact that he’s just wrong. That doesn’t make him a bad person, nor, for that matter does it make me a good one. And more importantly, it doesn’t mean that he is evil or worthy of scorn. It just means that we disagree. What’s such a big deal about that? Staci is a Dallas Cowboys fan; I follow the Minnesota Vikings. Granted, Staci has more to cheer about than I do, but the fact that we disagree on which football team we like, doesn’t mean we can’t be good friends. And we are.
Why is it that in today’s world we feel as if we have to vilify everyone that disagrees, or worse yet call them names? Unfair names and unkind names.
Whatever you think about our last President, he was not stupid. Yet the media insisted on calling him that in just about every way imaginable, and I found it unfair, unkind and most unseemly. After all, he was the President of the United States and entitled to some deference just because of that, especially from United States citizens. The media showed bullying behavior and about junior high level social skills for the most part.
We have a way of handling disagreements over a peson’s qualifications in this country every four years. It’s called an election. If you don’t want the guy or eventually the gal in office, don’t vote for him. Simple. However, once the person is elected, we should all show a little class, and that doesn’t include name calling among a lot of other things.
And let’s carry that over to our churches as well. If you don’t like Brand X, don’t worship there. There are all kinds of letters available, and they all have something to say. The only thing that concern Christians is that we believe in the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ and apply it to our own lives and actions. Just because someone sees things a little differently doesn’t mean they are stupid, as long as they are looking from the vantage point of on a hill called Calvary. As the song says, “Calvary Covers It All.”