Calling out what others are not willing to talk about is not easy. I am not sure it is always helpful. I am confident that many do not want to listen to the tough questions. Yet, dealing with the difficult things in life opens up the possibility to more.
It is interesting to watch how individuals deal with uncertainty. Some take the easy way out. They say what they think others want to hear. It is a proven path to popularity. However, it is also a transparent way of participating while not adding any value.
The alternative, albeit extreme, is to challenge everything. There have been recent examples where individuals pushed this to the limit. In each case, I watched the community react as if it had been judged and alienated by the individual. Frequently, they responded in similar ways. The result was two sides that no longer talked or worked for change.
The third option is balanced criticism. Included is always an acknowledgement that one could be wrong. A model I find myself learning from is Paul’s response to being accused. He calls out the irony of the process and challenges the group.
“If I’ve committed a crime and deserve death, name the day. I can face it. But if there’s nothing to their accusations—and you know there isn’t—nobody can force me to go along with their nonsense. We’ve fooled around here long enough. I appeal to Caesar.” (Acts 25.11)
This example reminds me that calling things out takes courage. One has to be willing to confront one’s weaknesses. One must be willing to enter the verbal battle, responding to the facts and logic offered by others. One must be willing to take risks.
The process has its rewards. I have rediscovered the value of a compassionate challenge. I have seen more than I imagined with respectful disagreement. I have found myself embraced by a community that has committed to be more than the sum of its parts.
The challenge is never fully resolved. Today brings questions. Each is an opportunity to be the difference.