I spoke of the conflict so deeply embedded in our national/global/insert-your-group-here culture...of how easy it is to find examples in which each side of a dispute is rock-solid sure that their point of view is the right one...and (here's the disturbing part) that the other side is not just wrong, but bad, and even out to get them.
There's just so much shouting everywhere.
As a person who lives to create harmony, I've found this increasingly distressing over the last decade or so. I'm deeply concerned that we're losing the capacity for rational disagreement: that so great is the need to be right that it just doesn't matter whom we demonize, whom we hurt, whom we shut out in the process.
I spoke of my relief at coming to church choir every week: we're there to train not just our voices, but our hearts as well. Singing in a choir requires humility, the ability to truly get yourself out of the way and listen, and generosity of spirit. You can't hear the group if you're trumpeting your own part so loudly that you drown it out. You won't like every piece of music that you're called to sing. Sometimes the crazy director will ask you to take a risk, or do do something that seems downright weird or silly...and singers faithfully, courageously, generously try.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not naive to the fact that sometimes, there is evil that needs to be addressed. There are p-l-e-n-t-y of times when it's necessary to speak truth to power. But I think we have to be very careful about our own motives; it's so easy to become righteous rather than loving. It happens when you're not looking.
Jesus asks us Christians to "love our neighbors as ourselves." Every major faith system has a tenet very much like this. I love being a church nerd because it's a place where we try to pay attention to one another...to dare to open ourselves up to a greater possibility than anything we can construct on our own.
It's risky. It's messy. And it's exactly the training our hearts need to cultivate the condition of community.
The world needs all of us to take this training seriously. And to do it joyfully!