Posted: November 11, 2016 by Rob Voyle
My first confession is that this is all in hindsight and comes under the heading: I really should have known better.
Like many in our country I awoke Wednesday feeling physically miserable and distraught because of the results of the election. My emotions ranged from anger, fear, sadness, bewilderment, and concern for those who would be preaching this Sunday.
But my mood has changed and what I would have said this Sunday if I was preaching has also changed.
Here is my personal reflection:
The extreme emotions I and many have felt, are what many millions in our country would have felt if the vote had gone the other way. I now get it!
To bring this home to our churches when people have been in torment over the way a decision, especially on issues of sexuality, has not gone their way and I would stand bewildered by their degree of torment. I now get and have empathy for that distress and I want to know more, to discover the core of that distress.
Here is my personal confession for my failure. Taking responsibility for that which is in my locus of control has actually been helpful in reducing my distress.
My first failing is that for the past year I have focused totally on why Mr. Trump was unfit to be president, and he regularly gave us evidence to confirm my perception, so I kept paying attention to why he was wrong and delighted in the new evidence I could add to my list.
As a leading practitioner in the field of Appreciative Inquiry where we say "what we focus on will become our reality," I really should have known better.
My second failing was my utter arrogance in looking down on those who supported Mr. Trump, without considering for an instance what their pain was that would make them want to vote for him. I gave them the tag idiots and then could dismiss their pain, their concerns, their fears.
As the founder of the Appreciative Way, with its foundation in compassion I really should have done better to listen to and understand those who differ from me and to find a common ground of core values rather than argue about strategies to achieve a very temporal solution to perceived problems.
One of my core values is the baptismal promise "to respect the dignity of every human being." I violated that value by despising and rejecting Mr. Trump and more importantly his supporters rather respecting their dignity and seeking to understand what motivated their actions.
From my perspective contrition is not about paying for past mistakes but focusing efforts on new behaviors to create a just and life-giving world, not simply for myself but for all of humanity. So here are my actions in contrition:
To pay attention regularly to whether I am living and behaving from a place of fear or love.
To continue to develop and practice ways of respecting the dignity of every human being.
I will stand fast against those that demean, belittle, and destroy others and I will resist many of Mr. Trumps stated plans if they were to be enacted.
And more importantly I want to continue to develop simple tools for people to actually practice "respecting the dignity of others." How do we actually do "respecting the dignity of others" when they strongly disagree with me, and how can we do it in ways that lead to reconciliation based on our deeper values that we have in common? I am not interested in being naive and having nice feelings about people who violate my values, but I am interested in developing ways for finding common ground with those with whom I disagree and working together to create a shared better world.
Over the past few years I have been adapting Connirae Andreas' Core Transformation process to exploring the dreams behind people's behaviors from simple volunteerism, to those things that violate our values. I want to continue developing those processes so that our congregations can be a place of healing and reconciliation in a world that desperately needs it.
The Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle is a leader in the development and use of appreciative inquiry in church and coaching settings.
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