Speaking the Truth in Love

I used to work in politics, and I loved it. I loved the exchange of ideas. I loved being able to write tell-all articles about candidates at election time. I loved everything but get-out-the-vote phone calls. (This was in the days before robo-calls.) But today, politics is about anything but love. It’s sheer hatred, and I honestly don’t understand why people can’t just agree to disagree. It’s not just DC folks, increasingly, I see questions about how to keep things civil at the dinner table during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I realize that my current career can help with that immensely. As a teacher, one smarty pants comment can scar a child for life. And I can corner the market on that if it’s important to me. But I work in a Title I public school, and if you don’t think there are more than enough cruel, cutting remarks going around, just visit one. (Oh, how I wish the members of Congress would spend a week in our public schools!) So let’s try this:

  1. If you think a person has a stupid idea, address it as if a child you love had said it. (Do you really think that _________ would have a good outcome?)
  2. Get more info. There are too many “open-minded” folks who jump straight to their favorite stereotype when they hear something they disagree with. Maybe there’s a great reason for the “ignorant” opinion. If it is simply ignorance, you can enlighten them without causing a family rift.
  3. Consider the speaker’s background. In my first years of college, there was group of kids who sat up in the Student Union all day playing games and lamenting the pointlessness of life. At first I was jealous (I worked 2 or 3 jobs to pay my tuition), but come to find out, they had no reason to work hard. Everything they ever wanted, they got. Of course they thought things were pointless. One of the girls ended up in a creative writing class with me and told the whole class that she never saw her father, even on holidays, but he was great at sending money. If your own father can’t make time for you, why would you believe in a loving Father-God, or honor our Founding Fathers?
  4. Know that hurt people hurt people. Something rotten probably happened that you could never identify with. It doesn’t make it right, just understandable. I once saw a lady in a restaurant spend thirty minutes glaring at and criticizing her adorable toddler. The child was the spitting image of the mother, was well behaved, and it was obvious the mom hated her. What kind of future does that little girl have?
  5. Not everybody was raised like you were. As a public school teacher, I have heard stories of abusive parents/caregivers that turn my stomach. I have been lectured by social workers after I protested their inaction. There are a whole lot of children out there who are simply a means to an end, usually involving money, but not always. Again, what future do those kids have? Any wonder why they’re angry adults?
  6. Agree to disagree. It’s okay. The toilet paper roll argument will rage until they invent something else for people to argue about.
  7. Even if the person you disagree with is the most despicable sloth to roam the planet, you’re having the conversation for a reason. Find a way to make a good memory out of it.
  8. You aren’t promised tomorrow. Below is a picture of a great friend I lost last year. She even made standing in line fun, and she was brutally honest. I wish I could have her back.
  9. Find a funny way to say no. “Sorry, I had my crazy amputated last month.”
  10. You can find something to love in any person. I used to say, “I love all of my students. Some when they walk in the door and some when they leave.” Sometimes my biggest challenges are the ones I remember most fondly. Often, the ones who hated me as a teacher loved me when they got to high school and had the tools they needed to be successful. Perspectives change with time. Don’t let one person’s perspective ruin a time of love and camaraderie. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

2 thoughts on “Speaking the Truth in Love

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