Wednesday, December 19, 2012

adding to the conversation

A single conversation with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books. 

Chinese Proverb

This morning I reposted a picture (with words) on Facebook. I thought it was amusing. At first I didn't plan to repost it. I had misgivings, but couldn't put my finger on them. A gut feeling stopped me, but then I overrode that.

A (much-more-conservative-than-I) friend called me out: "Just what we need...threats."

I'm glad she did. Here's why:

1. I want to add to the discussion, not raise tempers and eyebrows by using a tone or approach that alienates. I did not clearly see the post as threatening. In fact, I disagree that it was. The point is that some people do--people with whom I would rather further the discussion than squelch it.

2. I overrode my gut. This instance is not a big thing, yet it is a lesson to me that my gut knows more than my brain sometimes does. Even when I can't put my finger on what that something-is-off is.

3. While the tone of the post was amusing to me, it was ironic bordering on sarcasm. Sarcasm has its place, though the timing of using it can be delicate. Some situations are just too raw and sensitive to stand up to that tone. Not now. Maybe never.

4. Shame. Often when people "call me out" I feel shame. Not this time. I felt educated. My friend's tone was not as gentle as I would have liked. That's okay. She also didn't accuse or call me names. For that I am grateful. She clearly stated her thoughts and I listened. In previous instances of similar interactions, I might have felt shame. I didn't. A testament to my progress.

5. Her response reminded me that I am not operating in a vacuum. I have friends who are more liberal than I (yes, it is possible to be more liberal than I) and friends who are more conservative (okay...that's not so hard to do). On Facebook, I can easily forget the numbers and identity of people who are reading what I post. I do try to remain positive. I don't always succeed even to my own standards.

After I read her response I said, "Good point."

I thought a little longer and wrote, "I'll delete."

I did.

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