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Front Page Reflections

February, 2017
Graceful Engagement Instead of Resistance

You can’t really escape the widespread differences of opinions today surrounding political issues – especially the immigration issue. At first glance, it presents itself as something where there is a right and a wrong position and the extremes become pretty radical; protests and harsh words create tension. With a bit of reflection and humility, however, we may come to understand how each is passionate about some dimension of the issue and there really is a common desire for people and human culture. Some people see the issue through the lens of safety in their community, others through preserving an economic system that is sustainable, others through lenses of human suffering, and still others through lenses of ethnicity. When we listen in humility, we find the voice of the other person helps us to moderate our own extreme; and we find that it isn’t as “black and white” as we thought. The other person’s priority may actually have some value and it doesn’t mean they are not in favor of the greater good for all people.

Some have called for sacred resistance. Such a posture, however, creates a starting point of antagonism and antipathy, often with the result of vitriolic words that hurt and divide. May I urge instead “graceful engagement.” Graceful engagement certainly engages and speaks out when it is appropriate – but only after listening and seeing the image of God in the other. The outcome is a “via media” or middle way that is not so much compromise as it is seeing with eyes that are anchored in God’s nature and reaching into the circumstances of people’s lives.

Can you allow Christ to give you a humble, listening heart? Acknowledge that at times our own bias may cause immediate reaction that can skew the balance of your life. Anchoring yourself to the heart of God provides the basis for healthy engagement. That center, that anchor, that focal point should be Jesus who brings wholeness, integration, and balance. Mostly, he helps you see that the key is a humility that brings listening. And that brings the deepest peace in the midst of competing priorities.

--Kevin W. Mannoia


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