Thursday, September 28, 2017

How many partners do you need?

When I ask people what we should do when we disagree, most people say we should go find people who do agree with us and work with them. At best they might make some sort nod to inclusivity. This worked fine for most of human history, but then we found out that what we do affects people on the other side of the planet. What we wear and what we eat can cause suffering for children on other continents. What we don’t do can result in death and disease just down the road from us. Even if we want to be selfish, ignoring that suffering will eventually result in problems for us and our loved ones.

There are answers to the question. We have rules of order for running meetings. We have neighborhood groups and community organizations. We have Constitutions and International Law. We have the Rule of Christ if you prefer, Matthew 18:15-20. But very few people know how these systems work and even fewer actually use them or use them wisely. All of them are designed to regulate common decency; take turns speaking, respond to what was said before starting a new topic, when consensus doesn’t exist take a vote, seek facts, agree on how to determine truth then stick to that agreement. Drawing a boundary and keeping some people outside of it is the last resort.

I left the 3rd largest denomination of Christians because they couldn’t agree on how to deal with the issue of homosexuality. The United States moved on and I realized my church was no longer a leader on one of the most important issues of our time. But I didn’t blame all Christians. I blamed half of the people in my church and I blamed the poor system of decision making they all inherited. But I still acknowledge and support those who are fighting that fight from the inside of what I consider a flawed organization.

That’s around 6 million people I consider allies, not enemies. I’m sure I have many differences with many of them. But they have a voice that gets heard in tiny villages all across Africa where they still have the death penalty for loving someone in the wrong way. They have ways and means of building community that I don’t. My facebook post congratulating my friend and his husband doesn’t have that kind of impact.

I just picked this one issue. If you think this post is about advocating for LGBTQ or whatever initials I forgot, you missed the point. Pick your issue; GMOs, Afghanistan, vaccines, big government, big organic, sending food to Kenya, choice, life, free speech, then think about who you can’t talk to because you disagree on those issues. Then pick an issue like breathable air or drinkable water or creating communities where children can grow and discover their place in the world. How many partners do you need to make that happen?