Sunday, August 22, 2010

lighting your candle

Have you every gotten weary of debate? I enjoy the give and take of debate and discussion , but when it devolves into argument it isn't fun anymore. And when you present evidence and reasoning and receive only hostile rejection and name-calling, etc. it gets a bit old, to put it mildly.It leads me to ranting and pounding my head (figuratively) at the stubborness and blindness of people. I have to stop and wonder, what do I do about that?

I want to suggest three things to do when faced with those situations. Humility and self-examinations, seeking serenity, and lighting candles. Humility means that you examine yourself....your motives and your information ("have I missed something or gotten something wrong?"). We are all human and we all make mistakes. We need to be open to considering the feelings of others and give them the benefit of the doubt...not just friends, but opponents as well.
It is easy to get carried away and see things as black and white, instead of gray.

When you have carefully examined your motives and information, and fixed any flaws therein, then you can move to the next phase, which is serenity. You probably remember the serenity prayer "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference". In this case substitute the words people or minds for things.

There are people who are of the mindset "don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up". Don't waste your time with them. There may be times to speak out and oppose them , but dialogue is impossible. The Bible calls those people fools and there is no point of talking to them.
Take courage and press on with those who show some sign of listening to opposing viewpoints.You may be able to persuade them with new information or arguments they have not thought of. It may take a bit of work, but don't despair. And make sure you know the difference...it will save you a lot of grief and frustration.

Lastly, there is an old phrase, not sure of the source, that is very true in today's trying times. "It is better to light a candle than merely curse the darkness." Sometimes it is easy to curse the darkness, considering all the ignorance, misinformation, and outright libel and slander that is spread through our communication venues today. Frustration leads to anger, but we need to be clearheaded and fight fire with water, not more fire. Take a deep breath and focus on doing good for those around you, lighting candles every day. Love is the antidote to hate, peace is the antidote to war, especially for those who are violently opposed to you. Faith is the antidote to doubt and suspicion. And lighting candles will light your own way to peace.

shalom and salaam, my friends.

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