conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

The State of Conversation is Strong

with 17 comments

Despite the stupid stuff we keep saying

My fellow humans, the state of our conversation is strong—though “strong” may not the first word that comes to mind.


I’ve spent the last few weeks in a funk. Given Trump’s call for banning Muslim entry into the U.S, and Franklin Graham’s approval of that plan (never mind that Graham’s inherited salvation-industry hinges on reaching out to the very people he wants to ban, which is bad for his business model); and given Jerry Falwell Jr.’s call to arm his student body; and given what seems to be tacit agreement with these lunacies by a too-large percentage of my nation’s population, it seems the voices calling us to act on fear are winning.

But here are two hopeful signs:

  • A poll out today suggests that the majority of Americans do not agree with Trump’s fear-mongering.
  • An open letter from Wheaton College students to Jerry Falwell Jr. rejecting his strange twist on Christianity and reminding him that the religion he espouses has little in common with the hostility he voices.

Beyond those signs, the inflammatory rhetoric flying about can at times serve to stimulate solid conversation. For me those conversations have come out of a pit of despair, but they can still be productive. Just saying aloud what we really think can be like draining the pus from a wound: ugly but necessary. Maybe our conversations can start a long-term suturing that can help us heal. But we’ll need to listen to each other and not respond out of our instinctual fear.

All this fear-rhetoric is pivoting me away from the rabid voices and back toward seeking conversations with people who are different. At our best we welcome people even as we trust. We start by engaging in conversation.

Fie on the fear-mongerers.



Image credit: Kirk Livingston


17 Responses

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  1. Good thoughts and right attitude.


    December 11, 2015 at 10:27 am

    • Thanks, Jodi. But you know what would make conversation really strong? Twix Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies. Those would be a conversation starter for me.


      December 11, 2015 at 10:29 am

  2. That story about JFJr combined with the Trump nonsense almost put me over the edge. I like the way you think. Maybe the pendulum is about to swing back. I hope!

    Laura (Createarteveryday)

    December 11, 2015 at 10:31 am

    • Me too, Laura. Me too. It was the combination of those stories that set me to thinking very dark thoughts.


      December 11, 2015 at 10:33 am

      • I was contemplating once again what country(ies) I’d like to move to, which I’ve not seriously contemplated since Palin dropped out of the picture. Anyway. I like your suggestion.

        Laura (Createarteveryday)

        December 11, 2015 at 10:48 am

      • I read some notes from Muslim citizens who are readying their papers to move. That makes me really sad–persecuted people fleeing a formerly free country.


        December 11, 2015 at 10:59 am

      • It is sad, and after so many came out against his comments, from both sides of the aisle, and mayors too, I’d hoped that wouldn’t happen. Playing right into ISIS’ hands.

        Laura (Createarteveryday)

        December 11, 2015 at 11:14 am

      • You said it.


        December 11, 2015 at 11:21 am

  3. The world seems very subdued. I think we are all feeling it.
    I remember after 9/11 when there was similar fear-mongering, the father of one of my daughter’s Muslim classmates remarking that no one advocated deporting all white Christian men after Oklahoma City. But fear is not logical. If it was, we would have less guns, and more refugees.
    In the meantime, talking can’t hurt. Although I doubt you would change the mind of Donald Trump. (but I feel certain you would give it a try, if given the chance!) (K)


    December 11, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    • That “fear is not logical” is a good observation. Too often we seem to head back toward instinct. I’m as guilty as anyone. I wonder how we can reach out more?


      December 11, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    • That “fear is not logical” is a good observation. Too often we seem to head back toward instinct. I’m as guilty as anyone. I wonder how we can reach out more? Thanks for the comment, Kerfe.


      December 11, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      • I’m thinking about that all the time. I do think truly integrated (not just race–class, culture, religion) elementary school public education would help, because little kids are pretty non judgmental. But I have no idea how to realistically put that in place without the same kind of integrated neighborhoods. And that is not happening.
        So there’s a gulf to begin with: now where do we start? As adults we are more entrenched and less likely to go outside our comfort zone.


        December 12, 2015 at 6:15 am

      • Good points. Yet somehow we/I need to find a way to reach across.


        December 12, 2015 at 9:18 am

      • Interestingly, the Times had an article yesterday about the affirmative action case the Supreme Court is considering, in which they observed that even when campuses have diversity, groups tend to stick with each other because colleges really don’t encourage mixing. I admire my daughter, who has just taken the roommate assigned her each year instead of choosing to live with someone already her friend. She’s had 3 diverse experiences–a southerner, a Korean, a girl from Indonesia–this year is the first she was paired with another Northeastern girl. I think it’s unusual these days; they even let you fill out a form for what kind of people you won’t live with, and there are all these special dorms for “your” kind of people. So just what does diversity mean in that situation?


        December 14, 2015 at 5:01 am

      • It is just super hard to reach out beyond ourselves. I found myself writing about this today. It takes concerted effort.


        December 14, 2015 at 9:35 am

      • And we are all so tired and overextended these days…


        December 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm

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