“Where do you stand?”
The question caught me by surprise. I am quite clear on my views. Usually my views are labeled “opinionated”, rarely passive or not direct. I thought I had been quite clear.
“What about my views are unclear?”
“Let me ask the question a different way. What do you think of the conflict?”
I heard the latter question very differently. I do not think I had ever been asked this question. More importantly, in the context of being asked now, I was not sure I had thought through my views. My answer was a simple train of thought.
It is interesting to think how many different ways this question could be asked in my life. There is part of me that always wants to shape my answer so that it opens up a gateway to be accepted by the person asking the question. I am beginning to see that there are alternatives.
When a wisdom father was asked where he stood, the answer surprised many. “I’m standing at this moment before Caesar’s bar of justice, where I have a perfect right to stand. And I’m going to keep standing here. I’ve done nothing wrong to the Jews, and you know it as well as I do.” (Acts 25.10) He answered directly, candidly, and without fear. He answer was always sensitive to the people in the room.
As my answer rested within our conversation, I wondered how it was heard. I knew by intent. I wanted to be honest and candid. I worried about how it was going to be heard. I had forgotten to ask what the right answer might be.
I face this kind of question daily. Each question comes without a script. There are no right or wrong answers. It is hard to know what the individual or community is looking for.
The wisdom father had the right foundation. Know where you stand and answer in this context. Be candid yet sensitive. Do honest, even at the risk of not being accepted. It worked centuries as it did on this day.