I read a commentary in this morning’s Asheville Citizen-Times by Jim Buchanan called “Dropping the labels” and it really hit a nerve with me. You can read it here : http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20130707/COLUMNISTS08/307070009/Dropping-labels
In it he describes a little game he like to play called “Switcheroo.” When he hears some political commentary or watching the news, if he hears something said about “Obama”, he’ll switch the word to “Bush.” For “conservative” he changes it to “liberal.” He says that our political landscape is so very conflicted now that nothing gets done. He writes “It’s crippled our ability to discuss or debate much of anything in a rational manner. It’s destroyed our ability to see where the other guy’s coming from.”
Apparently, a Catholic magazine run by Jesuits just isn’t going to do this anymore. It has stopped using the terms “liberal,” “conservative,” or “moderate” as a description for anyone. I must admit, I’m very guilty of doing this. Without meaning to, I tend to write someone’s views off if they are “conservative.” I know plenty of folks write my views off because they are too “liberal.”
In the brain injury community, there is a strong element of what I consider the “conservative” mindset. While I’m aware it is not a political statement, I hear all the time, “God allowed this to happen to me for a reason.” I strongly disagree with this statement for I don’t believe God allows bad things to happen to folks in order for them to learn something. Instead God helps us make meaning out of what has happened which often makes us stronger.
Yet, I feel a connection to other brain injury survivors. We can understand each other’s pain so I’ve chosen to ignore these kind of statements and instead get to know the person behind the statement. A theological discussion here is often not appropriate at all.
I’m trying to do this in other places in my life as well. I want to try to understand folk’s political views instead of trying to change their minds. We are all children of God and God wants us to live together and learn from each other. This is what it means for us to live in God’s reign.