Can We TALK?

I was in a meeting with a mix of community leaders, teachers, and students and I participated in a conversation that was noteworthy. A 14-year old is wondering why peers can’t resolve disagreements without violence. “They don’t talk to each other. They post things about each other, and then it grows into this big, explosive deal. Why can’t we just learn to talk to each other?”

I thought about how many adults I have watched in person or on television who do no better than middle school students.  The rancor of our day spills from social media, radio, and television and we all have taken a cue from the “professionals.”  It’s as if the old “Jerry Springer Show” has gone mainstream and prime time and our kids are parroting what they see and hear in their homes, on the street, in the restaurants, and at the ball fields.  We are so polarized that we can’t respect each other enough to have a real conversation.

When I was in college, I took a course in interviewing.  Interviewing, you may recall, was about asking good questions and LISTENING to the answers.  We don’t see that on TV–not in the news, not in debates.  We take our cue from it or we choose to transform that pattern into real conversation.

“Come, let us reason together. . .” God said that to his people when they were mindlessly pursuing other passions, disregarding His instructions, His ways, His desires.  He offered a chance to settle things, to be forgiven and whole again.  Perhaps we need to hear this call again, deciding to listen and inviting that kind of conversation.  One thing is clear: if we who are parents aren’t modeling that, our kids will repeat those patterns and they will do so without adult maturity.  Escalation is due in their wake.

A fourteen-year-old asked the question out of worry, frustration, and diminishing hope.  “Can’t we just learn to talk to each other?”

Come, let us reason together!

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