A phrase we’ve used a lot the past year and a half at TAB Media is “your voice matters.”
We’ve also worked to encourage everyone to pull a seat up at the table and have a civil conversation with us — even when the conversation is difficult.
And I’m so excited to share that the conversations are happening — and they are civil.
It really is possible to discuss an issue or topic in which varying opinions exist and remain friends on the other side.
You may be scratching your head because that type of respectful dialogue does seem more rare these days, especially with all the jabs on social media and raised voices coming across the air waves.
But we really are pulling it off here in Alabama Baptist life.
We receive a consistent flow of letters, emails, calls, text messages and Facebook comments at TAB Media — and I’m happy to report almost 100% have been kind in nature even when the person was frustrated about a situation or upset about a particular issue.
It’s true that the not-so-kind ones tend to stand out a bit more, but even those were not as harsh as they seemed at first glance.
In all but maybe one or two cases, everyone remained respectful to each other on the other side of the discussion.
Sometimes we had to finally decide to agree to disagree, as the saying goes, and then we were all good again.
Other times, the concern was merely a quick reaction to one slice of the full story — haven’t we all done that at some point? — and once all details were on the table, everything calmed back down.
And other times, the results fell somewhere in between.
But in all situations, a conversation happened and that’s what made the difference.
Choosing to form an opinion without all the facts and/or because it matches what makes us most comfortable will prevent open and honest dialogue.
The most productive discussions happen when everyone involved is allowed to share what is on his or her mind without judgment.
Saying what we are thinking out loud helps us better organize our own thoughts and sometimes even realize where we might be out of step. Writing our thoughts out also helps.
Hearing how others perceive a situation or understand an issue helps us know where we might need more information or should verify a few facts.
It also could provide the evidence we need to confirm the understanding we already have.
Thank you, Alabama Baptists, for understanding that seeing a situation from different perspectives does not mean the two people are enemies and that having opposing opinions does not need to lead to insults. Thank you for having the conversations.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17).