Saturday, July 3, 2010

Picking Your Battles

One of the primary tools of the Believe Out Loud workshops that Integrity will be presented around the country this summer is "Graceful Engagement." It is the idea that when you talk with someone with whom you may disagree, you do it from a frame of the positive commonalities, the grace-filled intersections.

Recently a blogger for whom I have the greatest respect, Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God. posted a Facebook comment:

...had a very satifying encounter with a subway preacher during which someone may have been told to shove a certain book into the diseased orifice of his mother.
I responded:

How was that satisfying? What was gained?

Of course the responders took me to task. Of all the responses my "favorite" was:

Better to be heard. . . than be like millions of germans(sic) that kept thier(sic) mouths shut and allowed the holicaust(sic).

We are so quick, on both side of any issue to invoke Nazi era images to support our liberal or tea-party agendas. In my mind that diminishes something so horrifying that it pushes the limits of the first amendment.

Of course I support Joe's right to speak up... I was just suggesting that he might choose to do that when it really might make a difference, which he does on a regular basis. This was one of those moments when someone was so fanatic about their point of view, one might argue mentally ill, that their screaming "sodomite" probably was best left to stand on its own.

Was this an opportunity for engagement of any sort, graceful or not, that would have made a difference? In preparing for our workshops we have been struggling with metaphors that are not militaristic to say... "You have to pick your battles."

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