The internet, Facebook and Twitter are blowing up again this week. All because there was a blow up in McKinney, Texas.
If you think I’m about to weigh-in on that incident you’re right. But maybe not in the way you think I will. You see, I wasn’t invited to the party. In fact, I was on vacation. So I wasn’t there and I don’t have my own first-hand view of what happened.
Sure, I have the short video that everyone and their uncle have seen by now. I have the other short videos of other people reporting what they saw or what they think.
But I was not there. And I don’t know what all the facts are. And I have not talked to any of the people who were involved. And I don’t even live in McKinney.
But I do have some thoughts. Maybe it’s because I am in the middle of listening to a short book in the Bible called James that these words come to mind: “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
What if we all followed that admonition?
- We would slow our pace.
- We would wait to hear the entire story before forming opinions.
- We would wait even longer before making some pronouncement about something that just happened miles away from where we live…pronouncements that often have to be retracted once more of the story is known.
- And we would turn the flame on our fires down so that we will be slow to anger.
From the social media feeds I’ve seen this week I think we are just the opposite of what James teaches. We are: slow to hear, quick to speak, quick to anger.
I haven’t been angry as much as I have been sad.
- Sad that there is another situation where race becomes the issue.
- Sad that some kids were probably scared about what might happen to them in the hands of the police.
- Sad that police officers were put in a situation that, from their angle, might have looked dangerous.
- Sad that some people—teenagers, parents, police—handle these situations better than others and there aren’t enough of the ones that handle them well.
So here’s what I have to say. What if some of us in each of our communities learn to do what James teaches?
- What if we start listening first? We might be able to understand each other better. The word “hear” means more than just being able to recognize sounds. It means being able to perceive and understand. We need to be quick to hear. To really hear takes time. Let’s be quick to take the time necessary to hear. That’s the first task for any of us.
- Then what if we practiced being slow to speak? We would hold our words until we knew what they should be. We would offer more helpful speech rather than language full of “off the cuff” remarks and vitriol. We might find constructive dialogue that would transform the conversations.
- And what if we could master the art of being slow to anger? There would be fewer incidents of escalating anxiety in our homes, schools, communities and countries.
Maybe I’m just dreaming out loud. But I’m willing to do my part. What about you?
Question: What can you do to help bring conversation and calm in your community?