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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Opposition

Today is the first day of a new Canadian Parliament. For better or for worse, our system of government operates on an adversarial principle. Right up there with official title, fancy office and traditional functions is the role of “official opposition” whose job it is to “oppose” what it sees the government doing that it considers wrong or misguided. And to point those things out vigourously.

It would be nice, and hopefully it will be possible, to point out those things the opposition opposes in a civil and helpful manner, but regardless of that, the Opposition will oppose. It might seem that this is an easy job. That objecting and offering the contrary position would come naturally. But I think that isn’t necessarily so. It seems to me that most of us have a greater tendency to just “go along.”

One day our family was out driving. Tiona (almost five) spotted a big brightly coloured object out her window. “What do you think that is Grandma?”

“I think it’s a water tower.”

“Daddy? Mommy? What do you think it is?”

“I think it’s a water tower too,” both replied.

“Well, if Grandma thinks so, and Daddy thinks so, and Mommy thinks so, then I think so too,” was her final answer. And of course we all smile at her predictable cuteness. But even then, we were realizing that it was somewhat unusual for our precious redhead to be so agreeable.

There is research to indicate that our thinking will be of a much better quality if we allow for different perspectives, if we take time before reaching conclusions to check out what other ideas, possibilities, options might exist.

I spent enough time in airports to realize that the faces of humanity are extremely varied and diverse. You can’t sit and watch the thousands of human beings passing by and not be struck by the vast range of sizes, shapes, colours, ages, height, weight, costume possessed by our fellow inhabitants of this earth. Surely there are also many perspective on the ideas that emerge from our thinking. And yet, as we settle more deeply into the Internet age and have opportunity to live among our friends, seek out like-minded communities and interests, narrow our newsfeeds to sources that agree with us, it is possible to live life almost entirely without opposition.

I’m suggesting today that this is a bad thing! It may take a greater discipline to seek out the opposing perspectives; it may take more personal restraint to remain civil in our listening to opposite ideas. But it will be worth it. And it’s part of our responsibility as citizens and as seekers and thinking disciples to consider those other perspectives. It’s what makes opposition a valuable commodity, not to be shunned but truly considered and celebrated.

Any other ideas on that?

Posted by Marion

3 comments:

  1. I think the greatest opposition I've experienced has been my own. Perhaps that's because I am a product of a social network age, but I chose to believe it is because of the things I have learned through life. I have always found that the person who is hardest on me is myself, not to say I haven't experienced opposition as portrayed, but to mention that others voices aren't ones I listen to as long or as hard as God's and my own. I sought opposition these last few months. I expected it and hoped for it to be honest, a difference of opinion that would and could colour my world and shape my opinions. But as you mentioned yourself, the colours and shapes sizes and perspectives are already there. Instead I advocate acceptance of oneself. Understanding my own perspectives doesn't come exclusively from knowing others opinions, a lot of it comes from experiencing and taking risks of my own, from learning from my own mistakes and enhancing how I conceive the world.

    Knowing what I can see is important to me, and I've learned a lot of my own critical evaluation from a desire to be more internally. I do seek out opposition and that is to make me better, but it's not to argue or see right and wrong, it's to learn the good things that I've missed in my own thoughts. Like black to white and love to hate, one can't be seen without the other.

    Likewise sharing how I see the world is equally important... I think that is what I fear losing more in a networking age. Being turned into a number or a statistic where my voice is lost next to millions of the same my own unique intentions and reasons for being on any particular journey are lost with the idea. The expectation made is that I'm on the same journey as those I converse with, they don't see my unique skills and value UNTIL I show a critical ability and a definable difference of opinion.

    Sometimes it is scarey to face up to others and show myself, just like it can be scarey to share differences of opinion with those you love. I've found myself frequently unsure in the past little while about what to share with those close to me because I haven't wanted to start debate (and in my case I find that a real challenge!), and that has caused me to misvalue my own opinion internally, seeing it as a cause for contention and aggravation for others and avoiding it for their sake and not for mine.

    To me this comes down to an internal opposition, to grow internally and to promote growth in others, or to promote peace of mind and acceptance in myself and others. After the last few months I now see there is a balance required here. That one can't honestly respect others and not be opposition to them, but respect also requires support and acceptance of choices others make, not opposition... and I think that this has more to do with growth over time and in relationships and understanding through opposition (likely the wrong kind), than it does about advocating opposition OR peace through the entirety of ones life.

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  2. In addition to what I mentioned previously. I've recognized recently my own greatest sense of faith through choice. I see the greatest gift I've been given is the opportunity not necessarily to oppose those around me, but the choice to grow through opposition, or through supporting others, and the thankfulness that God can be there to help discover which is wiser.

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  3. Wow Kyle, I do believe you gave this more thought than I did :-)
    It does appear tho' that you'd had a head start. Thanks for sharing your great reflections!

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