This past week served as a great reminder that people will find any reason they can to argue. It doesn't matter if the issues are significant or simple, there just seems to be something inside of us that likes to argue. It doesn't matter whether it is in friendships, our families, our communities, or even in our churches, no place is immune to arguing.
I was a little worked up this week about an argument that I observed taking place online. I normally don't get too worked up about such things but I thought this one was so absurd from all sides that I became a bit agitated.
Fortunately Jon Stewart was around this week to remind us all that ridiculous arguments aren't really that uncommon and that we will really find any reason to argue that we can.
Apparently some 4th graders were studying how the government operates. This is a great thing. Coming from a political science background in college I would recommend everyone spending some time learning about how your government operates. So they partnered with a senator to propose a bill that would make yogurt the official snack of the state of New York. That seems pretty benign, right? It isn't related to any major social or political policy so it shouldn't take much time to get this through.
It turns out that they spent 50 minutes debating this bill. That is 10 minutes less than an hour and probably 47 minutes longer than they should have spent on it. Anyway, you just have to watch the video clip above to get the full sense of what happened.
Now I'd be remiss if I didn't make some theological connection to this conversation. Why do we do this? Why do we argue so much? It is because we are naturally focused on ourselves. Our natural inclination is to focus on ourselves and our own needs and desires and not on those of others. This is problematic when you get 2 or more people together. When people get together there has to be some external motivation to get them to work together instead of arguing. A lot of times this is simply transactional. What can I get from the other person? Knowledge, friendship, love, a job? The list is endless.
Maybe there is another way. In fact, I would guarantee there is another way. For that we flip to Philippians 2 where I'll leave you with this quote:
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I think it is something worth keeping in mind!
Thanksgiving Day 2012 - Northeast Indiana
This is not my first blog. In fact, I've tried to start a blog at least three times before, but it has never stuck. There are a number of reasons that I've never been able to keep up. The first is that I get distracted with real life. Between school and other responsibilities I usually don't find extra time to sit down and write for fun. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy writing, it's just that it is easy to forget about.
Second, I often find myself writing to work out thoughts that I have in my head. This means that whatever I'm writing isn't necessarily my best perspective or argument for something. I think that makes me hesitant to publish something that isn't completely worked out so that it isn't taken out of context.
Third, one's ability to appear impartial and open to both sides of an argument in a conversation is difficult to maintain if one has taken a specific stance on an issue. That doesn't mean that I don't have a specific stance or position on a topic but it does mean that I value the opportunities that I have with people to be able to listen to both sides and mediate and I believe that would be harder to do if they could say, "But what about that post you had on your blog, you're not really listening to my side."
All of these may be true and valid reasons to avoid the blog, however I think I've come to the conclusion that it will be a good exercise for at least two reasons. First, it will allow me to formulate ideas in a relatively concise manner. Blogs aren't good for long papers that contain a ton of footnotes. I'm taking this as a challenge to think critically and be well spoken while also being concise. Second, the conversation can be productive when people from different perspectives engage in respectful conversations. You may be thinking, "But Tom, when is the last time that you saw any respectful conversations take place on the internet?" I would probably agree with you. The good news is that I'm not that popular and I don't anticipate this blog being picked up by the mainstream media any time soon. Odds are that if you're here you're probably related to me or we know each other at least fairly well. I'm banking on that to keep people in bounds. If it gets out of hand then I guess we can cross that bridge when we come to it.
Until then however, sit back and enjoy the ride. I look forward to taking up this experiment again and hopefully finding some exciting things along the way.
My name is Tom. I'm fascinated by the ways that people, ideas, current events and theology interact with each other.