If you were to list the top 10 skills needed to assist the journey of life, what would be on your list? Communication? Critical thinking? Creativity? Persistence? Listening? Clarity of purpose? Willingness to build upon mistakes? Capacity to love? Luck? Your turn. What would be on your list? For me, negotiation is rising in value.
These days, it is not uncommon to see someone focused on their electronic device. A few nights ago there was a photo in The Sheridan Press of teenage girls attending a swim meet where the whole group had their heads down, focused on their telephones. Was there a lull in the action at the swim meet, or was the phone more exciting than the live action of the meet? Sometimes, when you look around the restaurant, you can see a large percentage of the patrons focused on their tablet or phone, and the person accompanying them is also on their electronic device. Are they talking to each other via electronic medium or is there a need to distract themselves from the boredom of the person they are sharing time. Obviously, we live in an era of cooperation between machine and human beings.
Yet, there seems to be this growing gap in human interactions. We can talk with the machine, even to the machine, but, we cannot carry on a conversation with the person sitting across the table. We can talk to the TV, or the computer, ranting at the latest news report because we don’t agree with it, yet when it comes to talking to another person about our political views, or our religious views, or any opposing view, we do not seem to have the capacity to negotiate our way through our differences. It seems easier to label someone a liberal or a conservative or an enemy, rather than figuring out how to nurture human friendships.
Maybe one of the reasons people shy away from church is the reality they might have to talk to someone, in person, face to face, and they might have to negotiate their position instead of huddling up to a machine that connects them to thoughts that agree with them.
Jesus negotiated his way through the streets of Jerusalem with the Pharisees and Sadducees. His positions have weathered the test of time. What about yours? Instead of investing so much energy defending the latest political harangue, you might take a walk down to the Church house and try negotiating with a live human being. Once you engage in the negotiating process of ideas, you probably will find you really only possess partial truth, like everyone else. The blessing of partial truth is: Idolatry is exposed and a brief moment of humility allows for a surprising opportunity of friendship.
Pastor Doug Goodwin serves at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in downtown Sheridan.