No matter where you are in the world, if you paid any attention to the 2nd Presidential Debate that took place on Sunday night, hopefully you stayed tuned in long enough to catch the very last question of the night:
A man by the name of Karl Becker with one question changed the tone of the entire debate from one that was heated, bitter, and divisive to one that ended with a suddenly upbeat mood.
One person even took to Twitter and noted that Mr. Becker had accomplished the impossible:
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(To be duly inspired, watch this video with some of Mr. Rogers best quotes, including respect, curiosity, and wonder. I really miss Mr. Rogers at times like this…)
And two, our current society has created the climate for a hostile, horn-locked election season. We have forgotten how to be critical thinkers and have ceased teaching our children that incredible skill. Reality TV shows are the most-watched series on television, yet they would fizzle overnight if they focused on the moments where participants worked to build respect in their teams rather than back-stabbing one-up-manship. And social media lights up with buzzwords and hashtags that turn complex discussions into sound bytes and knee-jerk responses.
But if we want to live in a different world, with a different societal climate, respect rather than retort must become our knee-jerk response.
I'm certainly not arguing that we all need to agree on the issues that surround us – not only is that utterly undesireable, it's flat-out impossible.
However, I would LOVE to see more impassioned conversations between knowledgeable, insightful parties – and not just in politics. These are the discussions that happen around our kitchen tables, in our church committee meetings, and on our Facebook walls. These are rich and wonderful.
But the difference is the ability to act and speak respectfully, including to those who oppose or challenge you, and even when you're having a bad day.
Now, the reason I bring this up at all is because here at Nourishing Joy, the heart of our mission – our deepest passion – is to equip and inspire people to live INTENTIONAL lives. Most of the time that has to do with being intentional about what kind of food you eat and what kinds of cleaners you use and how you parent your children, but at the heart of ALL of those things is the intentionality of how we LIVE.
Hear me out. If we're wanting to live purpose-filled lives, we must be intentional with how we speak. Let me single out one particular group to illustrate this: “crunchy mamas” can sometimes be a holier-than-thou bunch due to the fact that we've seen the difference eating real food and using natural remedies has made in our families and want to spread the “gospel” of healthy living to the world. (Heretical, certainly, but well-intentioned, for sure.)
So, if you're trying to convince someone to change their eating habits or you want to inspire a new mom to “go natural” in her baby care, remember that the only way to be effective, winsome, AND be worthy of respect yourself is to offer respect as the basis for your conversation.
(And, of course, passionate moms aren't the only ones with a corner on this market – it exists in every group who feels they finally have seen the light on some particular topic and wants to convince the rest of the world to change their habits.)
But it boils down to this…
What is true for our political discourse is true for our everyday conversations as well. And surprisingly, it's the everyday conversations that can change the world.
It's like the old adage states: Be the change you want to see.
And if ever we needed some change, that time is now.