by Conference Minister Diane Weible
I’m taking an online course called “Preaching the Headlines.” Last night some of us shared our “Persuasion Speech” as part of our final assignment in the class.
As I listened to the various speeches I thought of the passion that each person felt for the topic they were sharing. Each speech shared important information with the listener and invited that person to take some kind of action.
This got me thinking.
We all have topics, issues, concerns that we are really passionate about. Sometimes we feel as if we are the only person who understands the importance of the issue and we struggle to figure out how to communicate why it is so important to us. Sometimes we may actually feel the opposite—that as passionate as we are about the issue we are afraid to share for fear of being judged or making someone angry.
As I listened to the speeches I couldn’t help but notice how every person in that class was listening with interest. Did we all agree? Maybe. Maybe not. Did we all feel that this was the most important issue in the world? Probably not. Did we learn something? Yes. Did we feel moved to follow each call to action? Maybe but probably not. Did anyone feel judged? No, definitely not.
So, what would it look like for us to live our lives more like this? Choose that issue we feel passionately about (or even just really strongly about) and share it with others. And, those of us who are listening, lean in and really listen. Maybe we will learn something. Who knows? Maybe we might even have our own beliefs changed. Would that be so bad?
In a society that has become so polarized that we are afraid to talk to each other—I mean, really talk to each other—we need to find ways to break down those walls and share. If we can learn to do it in safe places with people who know and love us, maybe we will find the courage to step out and have those conversations with others who don’t share our beliefs. And maybe the result of that will be transformation in ourselves and in those with whom we interact.
Who knows? Maybe it will even be contagious and people will start talking to one another again in new ways. The power of persuasion is not a bad thing, especially if it gets us talking.