Do you ever feel like you’re having those conversations where you are literally talking past one another? I have had those moments, and I imagine most of you probably have as well. You can even feel this when you look at our media. You can read the headline from Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and feel like you have read about three entirely different events when they are actually supposedly the same story.
What are we to do then? As Christians, how do we deal with this problem? We may want to share the gospel with other people, but in our current culture, it seems like the popular rebuttal is to simply say that what is true for you might not be true for me. Or, and I am not sure if this is better or worse, people attempt to respond to what you said but either entirely dodge the question or try to shift the topic of the discussion away from what you actually want to talk about.
For example, you may be talking about the wisdom of the United States reopening some form of relations with North Korea. You may be saying that this is a good idea because it will limit the potential for North Korea to have nuclear weapons in the future. The type of person I am talking about here would not answer your point about nuclear weapons but instead would respond with a retort about how evil Republicans are or something like that. You can’t get down to the discussion about the relative benefits or drawbacks about talking to North Korea because this type of person is thinking on an entirely different path.
However, you can also see where this person is probably coming from. After all, we would have a Republican president and the Republican Congress handling these discussions. To this person, it is extraordinarily relevant that Republicans are evil because they are in a position of power handling sensitive negotiations, and this person is clearly not happy about the direction this diplomatic conversation potentially could proceed in.
You can see the frustration than that can easily mount on both sides. You have put forward a position that limiting nuclear weapons is a good thing especially for nations that have a tendency to go rogue. Your discussion partner doesn’t even address the issue of reducing nuclear weapons available to rogue nations and rather changes the entire discussion to the purportedly evil nature of Republicans.
These are two separate topics, and they deserve separate conversations. I would suggest then that perhaps this is a much better path to go down for any type of controversial discussion that we may enter into. To extend my example, let’s address the topic of North Korea having less nuclear weapons, and then let’s address the topic of how much or how little we like Republicans. Maybe these topics do interact, but from what I can tell from our current public discourse, we are all sick of talking past one another, and maybe this is a better way forward. We can actually talk to each other about the issue at hand rather than shifting the conversation. We’re going to talk more about public discourse this week and about more specific Christian application since I realize this was a current event example.