top of page

Try Listening With an Open Mind When You Might Not Agree

A recent forum at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. brought together elected leaders from both major political parties to discuss the “state of the union,” we might say, and offer suggestions for our health going forward.

It was called “With Malice Toward None, With Charity for All: Reclaiming Civility in American Politics.” The moderator began by noting: “As we head deeper into this election year, I can think of few topics more important than civility and the need for civil discourse in order for democracy to thrive.”

I know that some pastors dread the internal conflict that can come within congregations in an election year. I like to look at it another way. It’s precisely in the life of a diverse faith community that we can practice civility. Because we are held to a high standard of loving one another and loving our Creator, we can practice listening to one another, working especially hard to listen, with an open and loving mind, to those with whom we might disagree on a variety of policies or social issues. We can do the hard work of trying to see things through their eyes. We can resolve to hold them in respect and treat them with kindness and dignity.

The work of speaking to the things we hold most dear while not denigrating another whose views may differ is hard work, very hard work. It takes practice, and sometimes we won’t get it right. But, another of the gifts of a faith community is that we also practice forgiveness, of ourselves and one another. We can mess up and start over. We can get back on the path to a better future, together, a future built on trust, compassion, and dignity.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as it has been said. May that work begin now, within, and among us.

By Rev. Patricia Farris

Senior Minister, Santa Monica First United Methodist Church

8 views0 comments


bottom of page