I am not concerned because we have been through contentious times, although we have. I am not concerned because in the near future we have to address more deeply contentious issues, although we do. I am not concerned because people both care passionately about the issues we will face and disagree strongly about what we should do. Without disagreement and dialogue, we can make no positive change.
Instead, I am concerned because we are falling into the trap of debate, instead of dialogue. We sometimes respond to decisions, announcements, and perceived slights by email or social media rather than through a conversation. We sometimes paint with a broad brush, conflating many criticisms and commentators into a big, anti-school or anti-change monochrome. And it’s all made worse because we are protecting those we hold most dear, our kids, our colleagues, and our friends, and harm to them can be hard or impossible to forgive.
We will have disagreement in the upcoming months. We will have different views of the problem and different solutions we favor. I ask only a few things. When you have formed an opinion, think before you press “send” or “post.” If you are about to “send” or “post,” consider picking up the phone first, or if you receive a call, answering it. Last, if you err or say something you regret, apologize.
I’ll end the sermon by apologizing myself if this sounds trite or preaching. My father was a minister, and one of the many things he taught me is that kindness goes a long way, regardless of your faith. Let’s practice that. I wish you all well, my friends.