argue gracefully

In this Age of Offense, Argue Graciously

30 December 2021

7.3 MINS

Nowadays, a counter-opinion sucks the oxygen out of the room. Is it possible to disagree strongly without taking it personally? How can we promote civil discourse and debate if interlocutors keep being offended by mere differences of opinion?

People generally quarrel because they cannot argue.
~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Apollo 13 had a big problem. The gizmo that scrubbed the carbon dioxide from their space capsule stopped working. One must adapt and create a solution, or die. It seems like a lot of things have stopped working during these last couple of years.

Richard Freyman once said, “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned.

As we approach the pointy end of the year 2021, I often hear people say, “Oh I’ll be glad to see the end of this year!”

Understandable, but isn’t that what we said last year? The fact is that January 1st is just a picture on a calendar. A dot on the clock as it ticks inexorably onward.

As much as I want to see January 1st as a turning of the page towards better times, perhaps it simply won’t be so. One of my favourite sayings this year is, “It’s just another day ending in Y.”

Omicron and the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Fear wraps us in a shroud, tight as graveclothes. Look at the lines of cars and pedestrians waiting to be tested for coronavirus, some for many hours. Gaining perspective is healthier than enduring the daily briefings.

I consider many ways to approach the subject of the virus; should I raise it, or are we ‘over it all’? Truth is, yes we are over it, but perhaps not enough to fight for things to change here? Thankfully we see pockets of hope in the rallies, marches and protests in Australia and across the western world.

Come, let us reason together

Ronald Reagan said, “All change begins at the dinner table.

This year we see dinner plates flying — sadly so. Reagan was smart enough to see that gathering over a meal at the end of the day brings out discussion, reason, opinions and ways of looking at things. Sadly too, even the tradition of sharing a family mealtime has been watered down by distractions and ticking clocks.

Discussion, discourse and debate have been ‘reimagined’ (left-wing politicians love that word). These last two years have had less discussion and more hostility than most people could have imagined.

Broken Friendships

Yesterday we had a catch-up with friends whom we have barely seen. It’s wonderful to connect with people we love and miss. It’s also a minefield.

“How’s golf, Ivan?”

“Great, playing well, but the weather has been…” etc.

“How’re Doc and Ross?”

“Ah mate, don’t know about Doc. Haven’t heard from him. Ignored me in the car park a while back. Ross keeps in touch from time to time. I think he misses playing together heaps.”

“Why don’t you play with them? You’ve been playing with Doc for donkey’s years! Did you have words or something?”

“Sad mate. No words at all, but when Berejiklian said I couldn’t play with…” etc.

The discussion continued about how ridiculous it was that two men who had played all covid season with him had dropped Ivan like a hot potato. It hurt him; it surprised him.

Were we offended by their actions? I knew we had to forgive and turn the other cheek.

Compassion reigned, thank God. Suddenly my other friend said we knew how she felt about politics — it shouldn’t trump friendship. The elephant in the room hid under the tea towel… for a little while.

Irrational Restrictions

Later, she mentioned certain clubs which have insisted on vaccination status and proof to enter. Her friend was highly upset that she was denied entry to a club because she left her proof at home. Even after NSW Freedom Day lasted 2.5 seconds, most are now insisting on the tightening of restrictions.

I stated that lots of places in Newcastle CBD have reinstated them.

“Well, of course! That’s where all this started again!”

Sure; the only problem is that the ONLY people allowed to enter the clubs where the breakout began were double-vaccinated, with proof thereof. The unvaccinated couldn’t cause it; they were barred.

Brad Hazzard won’t speak the truth about this; no, he just pushes hatred of the unclean. “I wouldn’t be going near unvaccinated people this Christmas.”  Some good news, then!

Cold Hard Facts

Alex Berenson, the author of Pandemia, gives us some relevant information you won’t get on TV.

American journalist and talk show podcast host Buck Sexton reports:

“Over 200 million Americans are vaccinated, and daily cases right now are 300% higher than 1 year ago, when nobody was vaccinated. Fauci and the lockdowners don’t even attempt to explain this; ask why?”

Dare to be Different. Pay the price. We all have to pay SOME price.

Getting back to Reagan — if change is to come, to help “tear down that wall”, we need to accept a few things which aren’t easy to swallow.

Put your own life jacket on first; you can’t save anyone else if you are floundering in despair. Just as in an aircraft the stewards go through the worst-case scenario drill, listen up:

You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

Just as a drowning man will pull you under, we need to prepare ourselves. This isn’t pretty; buckle up.

Power Corrupts

Joseph Goebbels said,

“If the day should ever come when we must go, if some day we are compelled to leave the scene of history, we will slam the door so hard that the universe will shake and mankind will stand back in stupefaction.”

Addicted to power, oppressors oppress — it’s their nature.

Clothed in a ‘Spirit of Offence’

It seems the common attitude is: put on your mental armour, real and tough. Use it when anyone disagrees with you on a point of view, shutting out their suggestions. Frankly, we have a 50-50 chance of being right.

My husband offered this advice to a friend, raised in the Methodist church with me, but who had walked away. “Once you’re dead, you’re dead.”

She offered, “So, say I choose to be a Christian, I live a good life, I try to help and love my fellow human beings. Once I die, I die. No heaven, no hell, all equal — just six feet under. But what if I’m right and you’re wrong?”

At least we were able to have a civil conversation.

Anything Goes on the Internet

It has amazed me, the comments left by brothers and sisters about my writing, or that of others with similar opinions to mine.

Inevitably, some are trolls (though probably offended by the term). Others are combative to the point of almost trying to draw blood; that’s their intention. Many, having taken offence, wouldn’t recognise their words as such.

It seems that it would be easier to reason or discuss issues if our Prime Minister wasn’t a Christian. Many are being told that we are “less than Christian” for asking blatantly obvious questions about motive, solution, conflict, inconsistency bordering on untruth. Questions, not just for him, but bureaucrats and the ‘Select Group of Health Professionals’ running our country into the ground. Stripping our nation of hope, love and resources, especially the human kind.

For many people, outright attacks and vilification lets them sleep at night, sadly. Reinforcing what they choose to believe, because the other possibility is too much for them to consider; they can’t cope.

Brian Told Me So.

Remember the catchy little ad for the Nine Network? If you’re my age, you will. Brian Henderson, the scion of all things news and truth. Tune in at 6pm, and “That’s the way it is…

Can we consider that there has been, to some extent, a brainwashing of society, where if it’s on the news it’s true, and without question, accurate?

These same people told me Darwin got a ‘few bombs dropped on it’ in World War II. As a kid in the 60s, I was still taught that one!

Have you seen their latest promo for Nine News? It should give you shivers!

 

Time is key on the earthly level. History will write a story. ‘The first casualty of war is the truth.’  What’s going on with suppression of questions? Cancelling of opposing views? Science is meant to be questioned! It has to be, to be proven/disproven.

“Don’t mention Germany and Nazis!” Tell that to the European Union nations. (I’ve copped it for this one.)

Read some information about Denmark; no… Brian won’t tell you so.

The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” exclaimed Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, the movie based on a John Grisham book.

God’s Love

Jesus was moved with compassion.

See John 11:38, Mark 1:41, Matthew 14:14, John 11:33, Mark 6:34, Luke 7:13, Luke 10:33 (the Parable of the Good Samaritan), Luke 15:20, Matthew 20:34, Matthew 15:32.

He loved, He loved. Not every person accepted His love, or the way He shared or showed it. His was the only Life Preserver worth taking. Many still refuse it. It cost Him everything.

Love Covers All Things

Please let us not allow feeling hurt turn to offence.

Let me say something I believe with all my heart; there’s not one contributor to the Daily Declaration who doesn’t believe in his/her hearts that they are honourably working for the kingdom of God. We may not agree with one another completely; it’s okay. Love should cover it — if it’s His love.

Can I change what God has revealed to me personally? Can I ‘deny’ Him speaking to my heart because it may offend somebody? I could if my goal was to make you sleep better at night and not cry out as the watchmen cry out!

Not on my watch.

It’s close to immaterial to me whether the Prime Minister is saved or not.

If there’s a lack of discourse, options, threats and intimidation, “We ain’t in Kansas, Toto!”

Mulling over the word ‘offended’ strikes me how similar the response is to being offended; we go on the OFFENSIVE against the perceived enemy.

Joyce Meyer said, “Be quick to forgive, hard to offend, not touchy.

Just this morning: “Christians give the devil more ground in their lives through unforgiveness than any other thing.

So, humbly I ask, please forgive me if my words and articles offend you; it was not my intention. My intention, however, is to yell from the ramparts. “Arise! Wake up the city! The enemy is at the gates and within the walls!” A life jacket for me, and one for you.

I set watchmen over you who warned you:
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!
It will let you know when trouble comes.’
But you said ‘No! we won’t pay any attention!’
~ Jeremiah 6:17

Being offended for the Gospel’s sake has always been so.

Choosing the armour of offence stops love from penetrating us. God gives us spiritual armour — a much better choice.

When we find Jesus, we are no longer offended; rather, we rejoice!

Pray for good shepherds, righteous governments, truth and love. We are at war. Being offended by this may serve you to listen for the trumpet.

___

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels.

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3 Comments

  1. Anna 4 January 2022 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    thank You , I appreciate reading these articles as they challenge me and encourage me and I just had a revelation reading the end of your paragraph if you don’t mind me adding to your…

    “Choosing the armour of offence stops love from penetrating us. God gives us spiritual armour — a much better choice.”

    Revelation:
    Choosing the armour of (God’s) love stops offence from penetrating us. God gives us spiritual armour and His two commands, Love God and Love others…when we see others as God sees them, when we love others as God loves them then we would listen, speak, act as God would even if in disagreement of opinions etc, just as God loved us first and then with His never ending grace , He drew us closer to Himself in awesome love, changing us through wisdom and loving guidance. When we put love first, it will never cause offence because as the old saying goes, it’s not what you say but how you say it….and if someone happens to offend you, pause and don’t respond impulsively, is it you or them, reflect and question your offence and seek God for wisdom and guidance.

    • Jean Seah 5 January 2022 at 7:39 am - Reply

      Excellent insight! Thank you Anna! Reminds me of the Jesuit missionary in Japan who, when an enraged Japanese man spat on him for his street preaching, calmly wiped the spit off his face and continued preaching. The Japanese man was so moved by his meekness and self-control that he accepted the Gospel and joined him in his mission.

    • Leonie Robson 5 January 2022 at 4:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much Anna. Appreciate your words and the light God graciously gives to us, all the better to guide us in His triumph.
      Blessings, Leonie.

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