gold and silver tube bottle



Earlier this afternoon, I chatted with my older brother about a heavy topic; politics. He went on a very long rant about his perspective of the world, our government, other governments, capitalism and even on the ever-changing economy we now live in. There was one thing I noticed during our conversation; he was angry.

Something else I noticed – I was angry, though I held several different viewpoints than he did.

We did something that I don’t see happen in a lot of political discussions; debate each other. Part of that was due to the fact that neither of us had the time in our day for the sort of conversational unpacking we’d need to do in order to have a healthy tit-for-tat discussion. However, there was another part of the discussion that seemed to have the undertone of caring deeply about each other and allowing them the space to voice their discontents without stepping in to assert a countering point of view.

I don’t think this sort of thing happens enough in political discussions – or – debates, in general.

When you enter a conversation where two people have different points of view, it’s a lot like meeting somebody at the gates of a walled city. As you progress in the conversation, each conversation partner travels a different direction around the wall – creating distance and losing sight of the other.

As the conversation progresses, the two people begin shouting their points, because they’ve lost view of the other person. In some cases, the conversation gets heated because Person A cannot see Person B’s point of view, no matter how hard Person B tries to explain it.

That’s because Person A is walking a different path around the wall.

If they go the distance, they will once again see each other where they can conclude the discussion with the one thing they both agree on. In this case, after we both voiced our concerns about various topics, the unanimous agreement was:

“We don’t like where things are, and things need to change.”

I think there’s a really healthy thing that can occur when people have different points of view. I’d even go so far as to say that having two diametrically different points of view can be one of the strongest ways to build an maintain a relationship.

Why do people play chess?

They don’t play exclusively to win, nor would it be conceivable that a chess player will win every single one of their games – unless they’re born “Bobby Fischer”.

One of the incredible things about chess is the silent dance that occurs as each player studies not only the board, but the other player; seeking to get an understanding of their next move, strategy or even disposition.

Life is a lot like this chess board/game. If you play exclusively to win, I assure you that you never will. However, if you play for the love of the game, the gymnastic routine it puts your brain through, and the opportunity to learn from others who are both more experienced than you as well as more inexperienced (not “worse”), then you will develop into a masterful chess player, and you’ll be a better person for it.

It’s really easy to take a blind stand for any given topic. However, it’s an incredibly hard thing to look somebody in the eye and say:

“Help me understand where you’re coming from.”

That’s like doing the splits, acroyoga, powerlifting, salsa dancing and a world-record limbo – at the same time, while bowling a perfect 300, blindfolded.

I will admit, I’m not the best at doing this. However, I’ve realized that being understanding of the perspective of others is something that I want to improve at, because I believe that’s one of the best ways that I can advance and gain wisdom.

Wisdom is the understanding of things that don’t change.

Intelligence is the understanding of things that do change.

More now than ever, I feel like I’m beginning to sense my own mortality. I look back at certain years I have lived and remember the days where I couldn’t wait for them to arrive. Now that they’re in the rearview mirror, I’m not as interested in what I’m going to do in the future days I’m blessed with, but far more concerned with how I am going to go about living them.

Can I be conscious of my implicit biases? Can I be gracious to others and give them the benefit of the doubt? Can I forgive? Can I forget? Can I show up? Can I love with my whole heart? Can I offer a hand to those who need it? Can I truly live day-by-day and trust that God has a plan far greater than my own?

Can I learn to love the people that have hurt me? Can I learn to embrace them before they’ve apologized? Can I learn to trust that we’re all a work-in-progress and that nobody truly has it right?

This morning, I went to the shooting range and called a friend of mine afterwards, telling him about the progress I was making. I told him that I shot about 170 rounds of ammo, and he told me something that really made me think.

“You might just be spraying ammo. If you’re really patient, you’ll improve your skills far more with 10 careful shots than 170 careless ones.”

I think our words are a just like bullets – if not, more painful when they hit you. 10 careful words can do far greater good than a word-commit of carelessly spoken words, spoken in haste.

You can undo 10 years of a beautiful relationship with 10 minutes of anger, careless words or action.


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