It occurred to me recently that our country has experienced something similar to a divorce, “politically speaking.”
I suppose there’s always been tension between Democrats and Republicans (and other groups), but for some reason it seems to be getting worse. At least that is what the media would have us think. I know this is not true for everyone. Personally, I have lots of wonderful friends from various political thoughts, and we all get along and care for each other. But there are also lots of people who’ve experienced incredible heartache over political tensions, and have ended their relationships as a result. Going separate ways is not so much the problem (we are only human), it’s more about the inability to get along after a “divorce.”
This deeply sadness me, mostly because the ones who suffer the most are our children . . . and our future generations. Our children are watching. What are we teaching them in the way we handle our disagreements? Jesus said, “Blessed at the peace makers” (Matthew 5:9).
So how do we live peacefully with each other, in the same world, after a “divorce”?
Mayra Colon writes, “A divorce doesn’t always end on good terms. There are lingering feelings of disappointment and anger. The couple aspires to keep their distance hoping one day they will never have to see each other again. But, if there are children involved, keeping a distance is not realistic.” (“3 Tips on maintaining the peace with your ex for the same of the kids”).
Because children are involved, our own, and that of all the future generations, we must learn to live together peacefully. Many big arguments begin with small comments that are not well worded or are blurted out in the heat of emotion. I’m certain that if we’d all step back and take a deep breath we’d find the courage and will to improve our communication skills. I’ll be the first to admit how imperfect I am, hence my desire to constantly learn and grow as a communicator.
Here are 10 tips and go-to phrases to help Democrats, Republicans, and those of any other political thought to get along.
- “Thank you for sharing your opinion.” —Try to begin comments by thanking the person who has shared their thoughts. A little kindness and politeness can go a long way to keep the tone of a conversation down low. There’s never a need to be rude or defensive. And regardless of how the discussion ends, always try to leave with a thank you as well. We don’t have to be right, or have the last word. Ultimately, people’s feeling are more important than what the discussion was about. By leaving on good terms, it leaves the door open for future exchanges and growth.
- “I’d like to think about it, let me get back to you.” —We don’t have to respond to every comment or question. Taking time to think about what’s been said shows that we sincerely want to listen and consider the comment before responding. It also allows time to do some research on the topic and/or verify facts and respond accordingly.
- “Why don’t we take some time and verify the facts.” — There’s no harm in admitting that we may not have all the facts and re-convening a discussion to a later date. In fact, I am 99.9% sure that most arguments do not have all the facts. This is why it’s important to be very careful, thoughtful, and informed before posting opinions, news, and comments about political issues on FB and otherwise. Rather than stirring an already boiling pot, why not give it time to cool down and simmer while verifying our information.
- “Would you like to hear my thoughts?” — This is a tough one because of social media. FB and other social media outlets have given everyone and anyone a platform to share their opinions. It’s a free country, and we all have that right to share opinions, even without being asked. But may I suggest that before sharing, consider carefully the words used, the tone shared, and the accuracy of the information. Not everything the media tells us is true, accurate, or worthy to be passed on. This “go-to” question works well when face to face with someone who is sharing their opinion. Sometimes people just need to vent, or need a listening ear. They may not want our input. Asking before giving advice or input is always nice.
- “I’m sorry you are upset . . .” or “I hear what you’re saying . . .” —Compassionate and empathetic words go a long way to keeping peace while exchanging thoughts.
- “Let’s agree to disagree.” — This is often how things end, and that’s okay. We don’t have to agree on things. If handled well, disagreements are what help us struggle and strive to become better people. So let’s agree to disagree more often, and be okay with that and remain cordial.
- Start sentences with “I” not “you.” This will help others see our perspective and understand that we are not pointing fingers or blaming them.
- Remain Calm—When emotions are high, the tone tends to raise, which can lead to more conflict and confusion. Take time to calm down before sharing. Take a deep breath, say a prayer, or post pone the discussion if needed. James 1:19 tell us that “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
- Think before speaking.—Words matter. There’s never a reason to use “4 letter words” or other demeaning or harsh language in a debate/discussion. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “the tongue has the power of life and death.” Let’s choose life and be thoughtful in our words. And when we mess up ( as we all do), let’s be quick to ask forgiveness, and to forgive. Amy Gallo wrote an excellent article called, “Choosing the Rights Words in an Argument.” It’s a quick and relevant read if you have a few moments.
- Speak the truth in love.—Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. The question then becomes, what is love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Proverbs 16:24 also tell us that “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Dear friends, none of us is perfect, in word or deed. Let’s give each other grace in our conversations and political debates, and humbly move forward in our relationships, and as a nation. Let’s do this not only for each other, but for our children. Maybe in thinking of them, rather than ourselves, peace will eventually be possible. I’d like to leave you with one of the BEST sermons on keeping peace I’ve ever heard, told by an adorable little girl who tells her divorced parents to be friends.
Let’s all be friends, okay? Each day when we wake up let’s collectively say—Peace begins with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below on keeping peace.
Merry Christmas, good will and peace to all!
You may also like—Peace in Politics, is it Really Possible?
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