What do you think?
People ask us what we think. We ask others what they think. And sometimes, a similar question and topic comes up over and over. It happened to me recently. I saw a pattern. The topic was similar to what had been brought up several times in recent months. I wasn’t offended. I think the person genuinely wanted to know what I thought. But I also knew he already knew what he thought. I wasn’t sure the invitation to dialogue was to engage or agree.
Either way, I was going to focus on the engaging aspect, even if it wasn’t reciprocal. Mostly, it reminded me of how we generally reach out to others to share ideas and opinions. We need each other. We need truth checks. We need the process of exploring together. We need the discipline and respect and humility dialogue requires. We need to be less focused on the result and more committed to the person and process.
But sometimes, more is required. Sometimes, I wonder if the process I’m being invited into needs a little clarification. If it’s someone I have a respectful relationship with, I might try to ask some questions that help the person determine why they keep revisiting the same topics. I’ve found it sounds something like this in today’s culture of anger and frustration with people who are different than us.
Is this something you are passionate about? Are you living it out because of that passion? Or is it something you mainly talk about and are figuring out how to apply? Or, do you find yourself spending more time complaining about how everyone else isn’t doing things the right way, because it frustrates your passion or sense of justice, and you can’t seem to reconcile what you believe and want to what is your experience or reality? Are you speaking to yourself as much as (or more than) you are speaking to others about these things, and in the same tone?
And guess what that last question means? It reflects right back on me and my motivation for even asking that question and others. That’s the process of healthy interactions that engage and don’t just affirm. We are honest and humble. It’s less about projecting and more about reflecting. It’s less about me and more about we, less him/her and more about us.
It’s less about calling out others and more about encouraging each of us to ask ourselves the same questions and challenges we present to others—then responding with honesty and humility. It’s not as much about what we think as who we are.