Wednesday, August 15, 2007

When the Conversation Turns to War

Is it possible to have a polite conversation about Iraq? Yes, it is. You can avoid it entirely. Or else, Emily advises the following:

The war in Iraq is everywhere and you are sure to encounter it at the next social gathering you attend. It’s hard to know the views of the person next to you. It’s like the old proverb about the elephant in the living room. It’s obvious but nobody talks about it. Then someone does! What do you say? What if you find yourself on the opposite side of the issue? Don’t battle it out right there in the living room. Keep the dialogue from becoming personal. Talk about the issues, not the patriotism of the person. Search for common ground. Regardless of your beliefs, we can all feel empathy for the families of soldiers. No one wants to see Iraqi civilians killed and injured. We all hope for a quick resolution and peace in the region. Switch the discussion to a more neutral topic—for example, the news coverage. Do you think it’s helpful or a problem? This can turn the discussion away from your opposing opinions of the politics of the situation. Finally, consider changing the subject. The NCAA tournament, the Academy Awards, the weather, maple sugaring, the concert at school, the fish you caught this weekend…Have a short conversation about the “elephant” and then move on. Share


Jeff said...

Wow, what an important topic. Much wider than Iraq, though.

How to converse in love?

I was once on a blog run by a famous apologist. There was a woman who was commenting who was clearly anti-Catholic and insulting to the blogger and others. But these Catholics were making horrible comments about her and laughing and insulting her back.

She was just one woman and she was bearing up under all this and sticking to her guns. And she had some substantive things to say, too.

Well, I said, "I don't know what's wrong with you guys. I think you're being so mean. I don't see anything so terribly wrong with X. She seems perfectly nice to me."

They fell upon me! Very strange. I pointed out that all the Protestant reformers were anti-Catholic. "Yes! But she insults us!" they said. "So what?" I said.

"She suggested the blogger was gay," they said. "Well, that's sily; he clearly isn't. If I was in an argument with somebody and they suggested I was gay, I would laugh!"

At one point, she said something about how Catholics like me drank the blood of babies or something. They said, "See! See! Now you see what she's like."

I said, "I thought that was hilarious! Such complete nonsense, how could I take it seriously?"

Well, they all thought they should be mean to X. But I ended up befriending her. And the upshot was: she couldn't get anyone to listen to her. And she mouthed off. And she admitted it too.

And because I wouldn't rise to the bait and was always nice to her, she ended up deciding that all Catholics weren't horrible and eventually mastering her habit of insulting people.

We have to learn to listen to people and not just try to win arguments, even if we are right. The Pope is a beautiful example of this: the way he treats everyone from Hans Kung to Bishop Fellay of the SSPX.

elena maria vidal said...

Great reflections, thanks!