Have you ever noticed that from toddler years on up that disagreement quickly escalates into dispute? Did you ever consider that this escalation happens without any training or encouragement? No parent that I know has ever sat down with their child and coached them like this. “No Billy, Henry is coming over to play. I want you to be prepared when he takes your toy fire truck and begins to play with it without your permission. I want you to quickly waddle over to him, crawl if necessary and yank the fire truck away. And if he resists, swat him, hold the toy close to your chest and say,’Mine!’” The ridiculousness of this parent-child coaching session illustrates the nature of our nature. Clearly we don’t have to be taught to dispute, to attack those who we perceive to threaten what we see as ours – not only our own things – but even our ideas, our perceptions. This has been more than obvious in recent years. People have taken to uncivil and unhealthy disputes that quickly escalate into personal attacks.
St. Paul address this when he wrote the Philippians (2.14) He says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”
This command of St. Paul is followed by instructions of how to make this happen. He says, “…holding fast to the Word of life…” Dispute is diminished when our focus is on the gift of God within us, rather than responding to the evil inclination that is our reflex. This is the gift of God provided in the crucifixion and resurrection. By first receiving and then focusing on God’s mission, God’s work allows for dialogue rather than dispute; focusing on the issues rather than the person. It’s true that we don’t have to be taught to “dispute” but we can receive the “Word of life” that allows for interaction – even lively interaction – for the sake of the mission. For more information visit me at KarlGalik.com