Archives for posts with tag: differences

I often forget how fortunate I am. I tend to take things for granted. That has probably never been more truthful than in my marriage. I have not always been as thoughtful and considerate as I should have been. I have been too focused on myself, my work, or something else more than my wife and family.

Some would say that I am a lucky man and they would be right. But I realize that I am more than “lucky.” I am blessed by God.

Tomorrow marks 50 years of marriage to Lena. December 28, 1968 is the most important day of my life next to the day that I decided to follow Jesus. Three days after Christmas a half-century ago I said yes to the questions: “Will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?”

I have fulfilled those promises but I have not always been as sensitive and helpful as I could have been. Nevertheless, Lena has loved me and stayed with me for all these years. That has not always been easy. There have been many challenges but I am grateful to her and to God that we are still together and still in love.

I am acutely aware that the blessings of life are not always deserved or earned. That is certainly the case in my marriage. When I first met and dated the woman who would become my wife I had no idea how strong she was and how supportive she would be to me through many changes and difficult times. We have traveled together, literally and figuratively, through territories that we could not have imagined at the beginning of our journey.

My life partner and I are very different personalities. We have different strengths and gifts. We have not always been in lock step but we have always been together. There have been many times we have disagreed but I have never doubted her sincerity or her devotion to me and our family.

Daniel Boone said, “All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife.” I don’t have a good gun. I have never had a horse of any kind. But I do have a good wife!

Someone said, “Of all the home remedies, a good wife is best.” I can affirm that to be true in my life and family. I agree with Thomas Edison, “A man’s best friend is a good wife.” Lena is and always will be my best friend.

Thank you God, for sustaining Lena and me for 50 years of marriage and for helping us to stay in love with each other.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Over three decades ago a friend expressed his opinion and regret that, “The day of civil discourse is past.” I wonder how he feels today more than 30 years later.

I have opinions (on just about everything) and I am willing to share them- if you will listen. I am open to discussions, conversations, civil discourse- but not arguments. I know that I am not always right…nor am I always wrong. Sometimes I am neither. Sometimes I am both. And I am willing to give you that same consideration.

When I am “for” something it does not mean that I am “against” everything or anyone else. If you disagree with me, I will respect your opinion. I may be firm but I never want to be harsh. I will not demonize you. I believe it is important to separate issues from people. People are more important.

There are people who jump on every bandwagon. Ready to rally to any cause. I am not one of them and might rightly be accused of not responding to situations that are critical to the well-being of others. I understand that every good and just effort requires a champion if results are to be achieved, if change is to occur.

Elie Wiesel said, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” I agree. There certainly are things that require a response. Demand a word. But not everything.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” He is right but everything does not need an immediate response and certainly not an angry and vindictive one. The ancient Greek, Euripides, reminds us that sometimes “silence is true wisdom’s best reply.”

Please do not misunderstand me. I believe that we need to be change agents and confront injustice and evil. That means that there are times when we stand up and speak up but we need to be careful to address issues and not attack persons. Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize recipient, suggests “The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue.” That is true for any behavior or attitude that damages people.

Leah Ward Sears, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, offers this counsel: “We need to begin again to raise civil discourse to another level. I mean, we shout and scream and yell and get very little accomplished, but you can disagree very much with the next guy and still be friends and acquaintances.”

I am thankful if you agree with me. At the same time it is OK if you disagree. I simply ask that we treat each other with respect and dignity. It just might be that we can accomplish more together than either of us can alone.

Jamie Jenkins

Can we agree to disagree? That is the question posed by Gracie Bond Staples in the Atlanta Journal Constitution last week. Quoting Wes Parham, and organizational analyst, she suggested that the “hater mindset… (is) taking hold of the country, creating virtual echo chambers that confirm our biases rather than challenge them.” This way of thinking prefers “to dismiss any views that are contrary to their own.”

Gracie Bonds Staples, KIRO 7

Staples said, and I agree, that “simply having an opposing view is not the issue. The issue is when we view people with opposite views as the enemy.” Parham goes on to say when we disagree the tendency is to think “you are not like us, and because you’re not like us, I don’t have to treat you with civility and respect.”

Staples writes from the perspective of a practicing Christian. I do not know about Parham’s religious beliefs but both exhibit a kindred spirit with John Wesley, the social and religious reformer of the 18th century. In his sermon on “A Catholic Spirit” (1755), the Anglican priest and father of the Methodist Movement asserted that “love is due to all mankind.” In his Christian understanding that means that we are supposed to love all people because Jesus instructed his followers not only to love those who thought and acted like you but to “love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely, and persecuting you” (Matthew 5:43).

Wesley goes further to say, “Although every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true (for to believe any opinion is not true, is the same thing as not to hold it), yet can no man be assured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true. To be ignorant of many things, and to mistake in some, is the necessary condition of humanity.”

Wesley continues, “Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking that he desires they should allow him, and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He is patient with those who differ from him, and only asks him:  ‘Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?’ If it be, give me your hand.”

This does not necessarily mean that either person would change their opinion. Wesley explains, “Keep your opinion and I will keep mine, and that as steadily as ever. You need not even endeavor to come over to me, or bring me over to you. I do not desire you to dispute those points, or to hear or speak one word concerning them. Leave all opinions alone on one side and the other: only give me your hand.”

Believing that love is more powerful than anything else, let us seek to maintain a spirit of civility and a respect for all human beings regardless of our differing opinions. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins

I have become increasingly concerned over the “Us vs. Them” attitude that I see and hear regularly. Too many groups and individuals operate on the basis that anything different is bad. “We” must oppose “them.”  More than that, we see “them” as the enemies of “us” that must be stopped or destroyed.

I understand that there are people who espouse harmful philosophies and I know that all ideas are not for the benefit of the larger community. However, I find it impossible to believe that “we” are always right and “they” are always wrong. Whoever the “we” or “they” are.

There are many people who subscribe to the “Us vs. Them” approach to all matters. I am not one of them.

Some folks see anyone whose culture or language as different and probably dangerous. I am not one of them.

Many people believe that everybody is out for themselves. Wanting something for nothing. I am not one of them

Many politicians and John/Jane Does propose that Red/Blue States have the right perspective on all political issues and the other will lead the country to ruin. I am not one of them.

The attitude of a lot of people is that if your skin color is different from mine, I have to keep an eye on you. I am not one of them.

According to conversations I hear and read from individuals in leadership as well as common ordinary citizens, it seems that it is alright to use demeaning terminology and derogatory words to describe others. I am not one of them.

It is common for people to assert that anyone who holds a different position on religion, politics, social issues or virtually anything is your enemy. I am not one of them.

Us vs. Them

Sports fans often depict fans of an opposing team as bad people to be avoided. I am not one of them.

Someone always wins and someone always loses. That is the attitude that I sense in many people. I am not one of them.

Old Way and New Way signs, Life change conceptual image

I know people who always see change as bad. It is better to keep things the way they are. I am not one of them.

There are Christians who believe that they alone interpret the Scriptures correctly and know the mind of God  I am not one of them

Jeff Chandler, writing about working relationships says, “On the surface, we discuss compassion, empathy, and understanding but down at a personal level, there are grudges, alliances, and interactions that are the complete opposite. There is a growing contingency of US vs THEM which doesn’t seem like a good way (to work together).”

“Unless we are very, very careful,” wrote psychologist-turned-artist Anne Truitt, “we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turn based on indifference to what is other than ourselves.”

Loving and gracious God, help us to see our fellow human beings as brothers and sisters and treat everyone with respect. Enable us to understand that “we” might be wrong and “they” might be right on some things. Help us to work side by side with each other to  “guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.” So that others “may know we are Christians by our love.”

Jamie Jenkins