Perhaps never before in our society have we been more vocal about our feelings, opinions and preferences. Finding your voice and fearlessly using it is a great thing and, at times, is certainly necessary. However, we mustn’t forget to offer grace to those who are still learning the art of political correctness in their conduct. We must welcome humility to our own table when we are the ones being corrected.

Here are a few reminders of how we can protect our peace in today’s climate of offense:

1. Don’t take it personally, even if it is personal.

When someone makes an unsettling remark, remember that it really isn’t about us. We tend to, and quite easily, take the defense centering the conversation on us. Yet, conversations are tables to break bread with one another at, not battles to win.

Conversations are tables to break bread with one another at, not battles to win.

The people we interact with are in their own unique seasons and on their own journeys. Thus, they come to the conversation with their own filters. We didn’t instinctually know to say “please” and “thank you.” We were taught these things. Humility is often times an overlooked guest at our table. Yet, it is our best company, especially in delicate conversations.

2. Set the table for empathy, despite disagreement.

I am not suggesting that we condone behavior that makes us, or others, uncomfortable. Yet, we ought to take care to acknowledge the human in that behavior more than the behavior itself. If we can take a moment and remind ourselves that we are all coming from unique backgrounds, then perhaps we can approach others with more graciousness and less judgment despite our own feelings.

Empathy can feel counterintuitive, but as we empathize, we take the focus away from our feelings and take control of our emotions. When we exercise empathy, we practice selflessness. This gives grace her place at the table, and we really need her RSVP. 

3. Hide and seek.

While it’s easy to shy away under the cloth of confrontation despite our convictions in an effort to “keep the peace,” by no means should we remain silent if someone is noticeably causing discomfort to us or others. We mustn’t be deceived. Silence is not the same as peace. However, when we do speak up, it’s crucial to set some emotions aside.

Silence is not the same as peace.

Rebecca Reczek, co-author of a study done by professors at Ohio State and the University of Texas, had this to say, “Arguing that people are immoral or ‘bad’ people if they don’t engage in the desired act (whether it’s recycling or choosing sustainable seafood) is just going to turn people off and make them less likely to listen to the good reasons for choosing ethical behavior.”

Despite mindfulness though, we still may not get our desired response and that’s okay. 

A woman in a gown underwaterIf we all put these into practice, then peace can prevail amidst disagreement. We may find offense in someone’s lack of knowledge or in their conviction to speak up about something we wholeheartedly disagree with. This simple truth remains—we are not responsible for the reaction of others, but we are accountable for our own.

We are not responsible for the reaction of others, but we are accountable for our own.

Ultimately, I have found that when we are swift to listen and slow to speak we can curate a space for this—for grace in our conversations. She is our best hope when offense tries to pull a chair up to the table and we really need her RSVP.

Is it possible for peace to prevail even when you disagree with someone? How can we cultivate peace in an era where people are vocal about their offense?

Images via Bummy, Darling Issue No. 14

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