Can We All Just Get Along?

by

Rodney King, After the L.A. Riots

The great American philosopher, Rodney King, framed the question in response to rioting fifteen years ago. The resounding answer, should you have missed it, is no. We can’t all get along.

Which is rather depressing.

I would like to live in a world where people learn to get along in spite of their differences. I would also like a magic genie bottle and three wishes, but it seems the genie carries better odds.

I feel sick at my stomach when people are dismissed by others. Labeled. Written off. I believe this tribal practice (you aren’t on “my” side) is at the root of all the problems in the world. It is not good for humans to be alone, but it isn’t so hot when we divide up in camps and stockpile weapons either.

I like the sound of the word “tolerance” instead, but I’m afraid that word is losing its punch, too. In its current usage, it is equally insufficient.

D.A. Carson writes, “It used to be that tolerance was understood to be the virtue that permits, even encourages, those with whom we disagree to speak up and defend their point of view. One recalls Voltaire’s famous dictum: ‘I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.’ In other words, one had to disagree with someone or something before one could tolerate it. But in our postmodern world, tolerance is increasingly understood to be the virtue that refuses to think than any opinion is bad or evil or stupid.”

Is there any place to land between tribalism and agreeing with everyone, someplace between enemy camps and mindlessly holding hands? I hope so, but I’m afraid it lies in a radical word called love, and I’m not sure who all is brave enough to attempt landing in such dangerous territory.

Let me offer an example (and, by the way, you can change conservative to liberal and it works equally well): Most of the people I spend significant face-to-face time with are both politically and religiously conservative. And I’m just not. Most often I go to great lengths NOT to bring this up in conversation, mainly because I suspect one of two things will happen: either I will be written off as the enemy (which is what I primarily expect, along with possible unemployment!), or we will avoid talking about things that really matter to each of us altogether. These seem to be our standing choices.

I hate those choices.

I prefer love instead.

I prefer forming relationships where neither of us will write the other one off no matter what we think or what we do, and no matter how strongly we disagree. Conversely, I prefer relationships where neither of us will avoid discussions of things that are important to us either, no matter how much we want to pretend the other person is just like us, and no matter how “disappointed” we are that the other person hasn’t turned out to be the person we wanted them to be.

Oh, lovers may need some distance periodically. On the other hand, lovers may end up agreeing to disagree. But they don’t draw lines that separate. And they don’t avoid intimate conversation.

I envision the Hungry, Hungry Hippo world to be a world of this kind of love. Several friends who won’t write me off because of things I’m thinking have inhabited this world up to now (though most, but not all, share much of my way of thinking). It has been a comfortable place for me to talk about things.

But I would love for it to grow into a place where ALL sorts of my friends and all sorts of my fellow Hungry Hippo friends’ friends can hang out, too. I imagine a place where we can share all sorts of things because no one would write us off no matter what we’re thinking, while equally being a place where we don’t just accept what is said without a willingness to engage the conversation with our disagreements, too.

A place of love for all people. Maybe even Rodney King will stop by someday.

If all that could happen, I wouldn’t even need that magic genie in the first place.

(If you have an opinion, no matter what it is, please share it with our gang of hippos. Gaggle of hippos? Herd of hippos? Whatever.)

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41 Responses to “Can We All Just Get Along?”

  1. johndobbs Says:

    I like your post. I agree with you. You know my own personal journey has taken me off of the beaten paths of our tribe, yet while gaining respect and love for those who cannot come along on the journey. It’s not easy … this ‘with-God’ life. Anyhow… I think ‘hippos’ is not politically correct. I am walking three miles a day, faithfully administering Weight Watchers (most of the time) and attending / leading addiction recovery class. STILL … I have to be a hippo? Do we ever get to become leopards? And if so, can we change our spots? I digress.

  2. mkjergaard Says:

    Great post Al! I have to admit that I struggle with the “tolerance” thing , because I have thought of it in terms of the postmodern definition you mentioned (having to agree with or accept every idea that comes down the pike, no matter how wrong-headed it might be). But I am learning to appreciate those with different perspectives.

    If I post here frequently, you might think that I’m a bit of a cynic, but I DO appreciate your optimism brother!

  3. Les Ferguson, Jr. Says:

    The next thing you know you’ll have us all singing the barney song…

    Just kidding.

    Good stuff. If folks new all the stuff I think–liberals and conservatives–politically and religiously–I’d probably be shot before I ws unemployed!

  4. Seth Simmons Says:

    Love the post and new blog. We really just need to start realizing that if we could understand everything, we might be able to make educated decisions about more things. Most of the time we don’t even have a clue as to why someone is thinking a certain way. Proof of that would be that maybe we just don’t quite get what love is because we don’t fully comprehend or understand God’s love for us. We were created by a relational God in His image therefore we ourselves are relational. We need to start making more positive contact with people and that will only happen by being able to just try and understand them, not shoot them down for every way they are different then us. Love is about accepting that they are a treasure of God no matter what they believe or think.

  5. CB Says:

    Al: I was thinking along the same lines as your blog last week. What inspired my thoughts was (so-called) conservative talk radio. Yeah, I sometimes listen. (How’s that for a test of tolerance?) It’s not that I enjoy conversative talk radio or even necessarily agree with it. No way I listen for the sake of enlightenment. In the realm of political dialogue, most talk radio is something akin to political porno. The ads that the local stations run to promote talk radio are revealing. They seem to promote talk radio as a means of catharsis. The assumption is that what we need to do is call in and vent. And since we cannot all call in, the host will vent for us.

    And this is what inspired by thoughts. I was listening to a certain talk radio jock espouse a point of view that I would agree with, but he didn’t seem to arrive at his conclusion through logic or conviction. Rather, he arrived at his position through paranoia, hate, and fear. Basically, since the “other guys” were taking the opposite position he would villify them and take up the other side. (Yes, it made me rethink my position, but I didn’t waver).

    Where’s the dialogue? That’s what we lack. William F. Buckley could never make it as a conservative on radio or any other forum because he wants to think and discuss too much. He pauses and says “ahhhhh?” instead of taking the opportunity to scold and scream.

    Like you, Al, I hope for your vision of a place for friendly debate and dialogue but those places will be hard to find because everywhere else it’s “Bread and Circuses.”

  6. Coolhand Says:

    Good stuff, Al. Several thoughts. It’s amazing to me how the greatest truths are the simplest ones, yet they’re the hardest to do. I think everyone would agree that “love” is the solution to our problem, rather than lazy tolerance or even lazier tribalism. Why hasn’t it worked, then?

    (1) We’ve so misused the term that it has no real meaning for us. This point has been made many times, so I won’t belabor it, but I think it’s worth noting that one of Satan’s greatest tactics is to pervert our language to the point that biblical concepts such as “love” or “tolerance” lose their meaning and power.

    (2) Love is hard. It’s completely against our self-interest. It requires intention, energy and perseverance, all of which go against our grain. It’s much easier to lazily accept any and everything and applaud yourself for being tolerant than it is to engage your time and energy addressing the issues and searching for truth. Likewise, it’s much easier to find like-minded folk and reject everyone else as wrong or bad because they don’t share your views. What’s hard is loving someone enough to present them with the truth, AND to help them and perservere with them in trying to make necessary changes in their lives to come into conformity with that truth.

    (3) Everything in our culture goes against it. Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government other than all the other ones, and I think the same can be said for capitalism from an economic point of view. Thus, while I can embrace and applaud capitalism for the freedom and opportunities it provides, I think we are blind if we act that it does not also create a great many problems. Primarily, since it is driven by self-interest and self-gratification, it is entirely opposed to the completely selfless mindset that love requires. This message is pounded into us on a daily basis through advertising: do what feels good, please yourself.

    Again, good stuff. Look forward to hearing more.

  7. alsturgeon Says:

    Good stuff, guys. Where to begin?

    John: At least these hippos are both cute and hungry, right?

    Mike: Any cynical comments will feel remarkably at home around here. 🙂 Maybe too comfortable! Hope you’ll add your voice – I think you’ll bring a missing vantage point in some important areas.

    Les: Sad that getting shot would come before unemployment, huh? Even more sad that the shooters would claim to love the victim.

    Seth: Good stuff, man. I like your last sentence. Plus, I think you hit a key concept when you talked about “taking the time to understand” someone. I think that underlies much of the practical problem – we might like someone, but we don’t even want to take the time.

    Chris: I love the “political porno” vs. “political dialogue” comparison. Well put. Your emphasis on dialogue reminds me of a Randy Harris quote: “Many churches are held together solely by a lack of communication.” I’m afraid that is so very true. If we really got to know each other, we’d really hate each other, eh?

    Coolhand: Wow. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Especially for #3 which highlights the counter-cultural aspect of love.

    So, here’s the standing question in my mind: what do we do about all this? Any real ideas?

  8. msmiranda Says:

    Al, your post made me think about my family a bit — we have chosen the path of not discussing things that are important to us. This is primarily, I imagine, because the blood relationship pretty much made it impossible for us to choose the enemy path. I spent years hating this choice and preferring that I be branded an enemy and cast out on my ear, rather than sit in uncomfortable silence with so many things left unsaid. Of late, I have made my peace with the silence, because I know that it will never change. But I agree with you that it is a Hobson’s choice. Either way you miss out.

    The other thing I thought of, related to the above, is the unique difficulties of both online and in-person communication. Online, it’s easy to say so much without giving thought to the consequences and without tempering your thoughts with tact (or, well, love). In person, it’s hard to say anything at all when you know it might create unpleasantness. I think both of these facts are influenced by the physical distance between us and the perception of time as a limited commodity. If I love you and I’m not going to see you that often, why spend our limited time together discussing things about which we disagree? And if I don’t know you and you live far away from me and don’t run in my same circles, then I’ll probably never meet you why the heck should I bother being tactful?

    When I was younger, I used to be more of a firebreather and would say what I thought to whomever, and start those conversations (though I was probably too confrontational to do it properly). Now, I feel too tired to do all that work. Maybe having a 2-month-old has something to do with that … speaking of which, gotta go feed him …

  9. aliasheea Says:

    As children we are taught to share what we have. This idea doesn’t seem to make much since because if we have a toy and we share it, we have one less toy. With my own children this is perhaps the hardest idea to drill into them, that everything is God’s and therefore we must share whatever we have. This goes against our human mechanisms and our ideas of what is just even as we become adults and try to convince our children this is what makes the world a happier place. Now, let me put in a little disclaimer here because as Christians we are called to be above our human mechanisms. There is much joy to be found in sharing with others, but I am focusing here only on what our natural inclinations as humans are.

    So the interesting thing about love is that it is one of the only things that we can share and actually get more back in return. I think that this is a hard concept for people to get. They simply don’t believe it because love is revolutionary and so different from every other thing in our lives. Sometimes I can take a step back and look and see how I withhold my love from my husband, my family, or my friends at certain times in my life. As sad as it is, we do this because of whatever reasons, usually having to do with fear. But that is a sad place to live, as fear is what leads to those worlds of “enemy camps” or “mindlessly holding hands.” And there are more reasons to fear giving love freely. Most of the great ones have died from their unconditional love- Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and of course Jesus Christ. This is a scary model to follow. But I think that it is worth it. Wouldn’t we rather be remembered as someone who died loving others? I’m not sure I can think of anything else as worthy. We have to decide what is worth standing up for, what is worth dying over if need be. Sometimes when reading the bible we understand that being a Christian means you could die for your beliefs, but perhaps in America it is harder to see this because we are in a “Christian Nation.” But really living and loving full out in the model of Jesus can threaten others, which we have seen in the lives of those like Martin Luther King.

    So the issues of tolerance and love are definitely wrapped up together. Tolerance is more like a facet of love, where you don’t have to accept everyone’s ideas, just that those ideas are what make that beautiful person. It’s really fascinating seeing people as a whole person made of ideas and beliefs formed over an entire life of different experiences. It’s so easy to listen to our voice in our head telling us that we’ve obviously thought this through entirely and logically and therefore we are the only ones who could be right. Perhaps that is the basis of the entire problem, we are so egocentric that we truly belief we are the “right” one while others are wrong. Living with this view (where we astonishingly appear as God with the ability to judge all things) there is no room for love and acceptance. My challenge is for this to be a place where we ignore the God-like inner voice we have that tells us all the truths of everything, and remember the beauty of a differing ideal.
    Within this view of life there is plenty of room for helping others with our guidance as well as us learning something new for ourselves.

  10. alsturgeon Says:

    Msmiranda: The online observation is very perceptive. Which calls the whole Hippo experiment into question. I think I really do look at Hippo-Land as an experiment – maybe a somewhat safe place to practice love (in the faceless sort of way). Maybe learning to love here can transfer into face-to-face relationships? I wonder…

    Oh, and it’s interesting to consider your “growing up” years now that you have a little’un of your own. Considering what direction that will take. How will you handle a rebellious son who does something crazy, like vote Republican? Not that that will ever happen, of course… 🙂

    Alia: Lots of great stuff, but I’ll highlight in particular that I think you’re spot on by singling out “fear” as a major culprit in all this. I know it’s the major part of my struggle with love (in spite of the Bible’s explanation that perfect love drives out fear). Fear of rejection drives both sides of the equation (on one hand, if I write someone off first, then it was my choice; on the other, if I avoid the issue, then I won’t be rejected).

    I think we’re afraid to love, and maybe with good reason.

  11. alsturgeon Says:

    BTW everyone, when you’re here in HippoWorld, feel free to take a look around the archives. We’ve imported everything from the past 2 1/2 years (as Desperate Houseflies), and there have been some truly fascinating discussions over that time period.

  12. urbino Says:

    I dunno, Al. It sounds to me like you’re saying, “We can’t manage tolerance, so, hey, let’s try love!” If we can’t even crawl, are we up for the 400m hurdles?

    Also, I think — from what I can tell from a brief quote — that Carson caricatures postmodernism, reducing it to “anything goes” (which, I think, is a fair condensation of his words). I wish I could say this surprises me. Unfortunately, however, this is a long-established habit among Christians. Every intellectual or cultural boogeyman churches have turned their attention to over the past . . . well, as long as I can remember . . . has ended up being reduced by them to “anything goes.”

    As I mentioned in a very old post over on the old site, C.S. Lewis used to refer to this, when it happened to words, as “verbicide”: the reduction of a word to meaning simply “good” or “bad.” The effect is to murder the original word; to dispatch it from existence.

    This is bad enough when we do it to words. It’s much worse when we do it to whole ideologies, worldviews, philosophies, or movements. Much worse because people lie behind all those things.

    To reduce what people are saying to simply “anything goes” not only murders their language and ideas, it dispatches the people themselves out of our existence. We simply cease to take notice of them. We still take notice of the caricatures we’ve reduced them to — which we anathematize and vituperate — but the people themselves? We never see them anymore. They’re dead to us.

    All the “love and selflessness” church-talk in the world amounts to less than nothing so long as that continues to happen. And after all these centuries to work on it, one has to seriously question whether churches will ever change their ways. (IMHO, more than seriously question it, but that’s neither here nor there.)

    Certainly, churches are not alone in this habit of reducing anyone who says anything different from them to a caricature to be anathematized, rather than a person to be listened to, even if not agreed with.

    However, since the comments thus far pretty clearly reflect a Christian orientation, and since churches claim to be plugged into something (and someone) that gives them the capability to be better than . . . well, everyone else, and since Carson seemed to be engaging in the very thing your post was bemoaning, churches seemed like a good place to start.

  13. alsturgeon Says:

    I’m in the middle of the Carson book, which, by the way, I don’t care for so far. But anyway, I thought his definition of tolerance highlighted this “other side” of the problem with developing community – the avoidance/denial side that conservatives (generally) decry. ISTM that his claim is that tolerance has suffered verbicide as well. That people hear “tolerance” and think what Mike mentioned in his comment, that one isn’t allowed to disagree.

    And I’m glad your final three paragraphs call churches on the carpet. I’m interested to see if folks will circle back around and face the accusations. Cuz I ain’t denying them.

    I mean, I do believe (citing my Katrina experiences) that Christianity has something going when it comes to rallying the troops and caring for faceless people in the name of love. Even when those faceless people show up in line to accept the love offerings. But when we move beyond faces to relationships, I have to agree with you: Christians (in general) don’t seem much different than others (in general).

    Which is sort of an underlying point of my whole article.

  14. urbino Says:

    ISTM that his claim is that tolerance has suffered verbicide as well. That people hear “tolerance” and think what Mike mentioned in his comment

    Right. What I’m suggesting is that Christians’ (and others’) reduction of postmodernism to “anything goes” is a cause of people’s perception of the word “tolerance.” Carson is turning out the lights and then cursing the darkness.

    But when we move beyond faces to relationships, I have to agree with you: Christians (in general) don’t seem much different than others (in general).

    I don’t mean to be unduly harsh, but: Christians seem much worse than others, in my experience. Particularly over the past, oh, almost 40 years now. They’ve gotten harder and harder and harder to “just get along” with, until now they’re more difficult than pretty much any other significant segment of the population.

    That’s a sociological problem for everyone. But for Christian insiders, it’s also a religious problem. A big one. That very, very few insiders even see (or want to see).

  15. johndobbs Says:

    AL: “I prefer forming relationships where neither of us will write the other one off … where neither of us will avoid discussions of things that are important to us …”

    URBINO: “This is bad enough when we do it to words. It’s much worse when we do it to whole ideologies, worldviews, philosophies, or movements. Much worse because people lie behind all those things. … And after all these centuries to work on it, one has to seriously question whether churches will ever change their ways.”

    JD: I feel a bit simple minded here, and maybe I’m not following the discussion very well. I’m trying. I think those two statements capture the intent of this discussion … with lots of other great thoughts tossed into the soup as well. I think I follow you, Urbino, and you have made a point that cannot be denied … Christians / Churches sometimes practice the very thing that fails to bring about the acceptance and relationships that they SAY they want. I say ‘sometimes’ because within most churches there are people who get it and who can continue to love those with whom they disagree … and serve those who live lifestyles they would not recommend. But I will have to admit that these do not seem to be in the majority.

    On some discussion boards they play a game called THE LAST WORD. Lots of silly pictures and statements that end with “Now I’ve got the last word”. I’ve seen this played in conversations where tenatious (sp?) Christians and non-Christians simply will not let silence erupt … there has to be a one-up … a last word. My teenage son plays this very well when we are having discussions about…well…most every discussion. I think this is a human tendency … or at least one that lots of humans have. I hope Christians aren’t claiming to be BETTER (too much evidence against that one) but they certainly should be yielding to the influence of the Holy Spirit … moving them away from a combative rejecting spirit … to one that reflects more the disciple’s teacher, Jesus. Any claim of ‘goodness’ we have is not our own.

    I know my own tendency is to want to win … to have that last word … to say that one thing that will be met with silence…defeat of the other’s idea (which of course is false because it doesn’t reckon with mine). Pride. God has done a lot of working on my heart in this area, and I’ve got to let Him do a lot more.

    No healthy person wants to be in a relationship where the point is that one person wins and the other person loses. I think we do not have to be afraid to talk about things … but we should be afraid to become defensive and keep on talking after the impasse. So, yes, sometimes the best thing to do is just to be quiet. Miranda mentioned about the painful silence that sometimes allows problems to brew right under the surface. But once those things have been expressed, any further expression is simply an attempt to force change on someone else.

    I feel like I’m just rambling on and on here and not getting anywhere. Maybe I want the last word with myself. Instead of always seeking the last word … wanting to win … we should seek the last SERVE. Serve and love others … without expectation … and without changing your own convictions unless you reach new insight.

    Are we tracking?

  16. johndobbs Says:

    Look how long that comment is. Geez louise.

  17. Ric Says:

    Okay, I’ll take the bait.
    Aside from leaving comments, how do I post?

  18. Ric Says:

    ps….
    Aloha

  19. alsturgeon Says:

    Ric: I’d have to send you an invitation. Believe it or not, I’ve lost your home email address (accidental deletion). I just have your work address. Send your home email to me.

    John: Let me make sure I get the last word here. 🙂 Your point about folks in churches who “get it” not being the majority is worth some reflection. Is there any positive correlation between “getting it” and going to church at all in this matter? Urbino’s claim is that it might even be a negative correlation. This is worth serious reflection.

    Urbino: I see your point on Carson, and it makes perfect sense. I’m slow. Work with me. 🙂 And as to the evaluation noted above, my only fear is that we’re all working with our own observational data, so I’m afraid to agree or disagree. But I do think that it’s a long stretch to claim a positive correlation. Which does call the whole religious ballgame into a reasonable – and potentially fatal – question.

  20. Steve Martin Says:

    Can’t we all just get along? Sure. We ignore:

    At my church we have two distinct camps–the evacuators and the non-evacuators. When a hurricane comes our way some will leave and some will go. The ones who stay insist that since some will never leave, we should be compelled to stay (and do stay) to tough it out to look after them–ie gather at our church building as a group. The ones who leave insist that everyone should leave, either individually or as a group (and do leave as groups).

    Andso, we ignore. And we get along just fine.

    However, since we are being honest I’ll say this: Just fine is just fine, but just fine is not great, nor awesome, nor extraordinay. Each group tolerates the other. While people from both camps intermingle, a mild distrust remains. “You weren’t here” and “How could you stay” will be there as long as we tolerate our silence.

    We are silent and new members of our church will come and established members will stop coming to our congregation for “no apparent reason” while there is a deep disconnect being tolerated.

    So we will be just fine, but not extraordinary.

    Andso, my hippos (and leopards) for what we’ve got is NOT two camps who tolerate; not at all–we have one large group of many individuals, all who condone looking the other way.

    I will tolerate people and opinions, but I will not condone silence and avoiding confrontation; Ignoring the disconnect…well, lets just get together and talk it out. We won’t disagree for long. We tabled these conversations long ago when we were angry at eachother; its high time to revisit them now we’re calm.

  21. alsturgeon Says:

    Count me in!!!! 😉

  22. johndobbs Says:

    I volunteer to be the referenced leopard.

  23. johndobbs Says:

    AL: Is there any positive correlation between “getting it” and going to church at all in this matter?

    I think YES. I went to school with lots of people who didn’t get it. Yet, those who did get it and actually graduate with some degree of self respect were people who were in a place to get what they received. Now if we want to contend that many in our church pews wouldn’t know discipleship if it bit them in the patoot, then that’s another question. The community of faith is alive … and well … but it is not composed of the whole group we see on Sunday. It is there, however. And we hope the door is open for all who desire to progress deeper. Outside of that community I think a necessary element is missing for the desired growth. For one thing, we won’t get the chance to love the people who don’t get it. Which is a part of our calling. Just my thoughts. … and in ONE paragraph. I’m getting better.

  24. urbino Says:

    Ignoring the disconnect…well, lets just get together and talk it out.

    The solution in Christianity to such disconnects has always been denominationalism (a term I use strictly sociologically, not in the pejorative CofC doctrinal sense): “You people go have your Christian community, and we’ll go have ours. You and we will work together where we can, but otherwise we’ll each mind our own business.”

    I don’t know that that approach is entirely without merit. However, it does lead to finer and finer distinctions, and to smaller and smaller communities that are more and more estranged from each other. It also places a huge premium on knowing one’s history. Without the perspective of history, ever tinier disagreements continue to look as large and important as ever; the people perceiving them exist in such an insular context that there aren’t any genuinely large differences to lend perspective to the tiny ones. (Witness the CofC or most any Bible Belt church of any kind. QED.)

    This is the American way of things, in general. If there’s something you don’t like about what currently exists, go somewhere else and start your own. Or wait until somebody else brings a new whatever-it-is into the market, one that you like better, and go buy/join/support/marry that.

    You don’t have to accept the bad with the good and work within the existing thing to improve the bad. You can ditch the existing thing and strike out on your own for Something New that simply doesn’t have the bad — either because you’re inventing it yourself and therefore can exclude whatever you don’t like, or because somebody else has already invented one targeted at the niche market you happen to be in.

    It’s great for consumers, but hell on community.

  25. Mycroft Says:

    Hi, Al,

    No doubt you included us in your circle of blogger friends by mistake, as we are clearly not smart enough to regularly contribute to this kind of diatribe.

    Still, here is my shot at the subject at hand:

    We set our boundries in life, and refuse to cross them, then wonder where tolerance went. The first step to all of us “just getting along” is to discard the notion that we are unique in that we and we alone have it all figured out. We share the human condition with the rest of the world, even those with radically different limits on their lives than we set for ourselves.

    Remember, we all itch. The only substantial difference between any of us is our scratch threshold.

  26. alsturgeon Says:

    Mycroft: 🙂 No mistake in including you at all! So glad you made a valuable contribution to the discussion. I like the scratch threshold metaphor.

    John: I tend to agree with what you say, especially the part about getting a chance to love those who don’t get it. I really doubt that happens intentionally outside of “church,” but someone feel free to correct me (not that it couldn’t, I just don’t know of other places that have the setup to practice this intentionally).

    Urbino: You are too cool. You fired off a most excellent argument for why America and Christianity don’t mix well (in spite of the fact that we cling to the belief that the opposite is supposed to be true). Your comment ought to be an editorial that everyone reads and discusses all by itself.

  27. MsPamela Says:

    Right after Katrinia hit it was a sure thing that we would go out and help the less fortunate. At that time the less fortunate had no definable perameters except sadness and loss (homes, things, people). Two years out it is more difficult. While we would never let a starving neighbor go without it is easier to turn our head away from the begger holding up his sign at the I-10 offramp or screaming & crying in front of a Walmart. The less fortunate, less clean, less lovable (by our standards not necessarily theirs.) are the ones we need to be showing Christ-like behaviors to. Did He not show that same tolerance/compassionate/love to us on the cross?Somehow I don’t see Jesus shaking his head and wondering if that begger is “just trying to take me like that guy exposed on Dateline.” It is not ours to judge itis ours to love as commanded by our First Love. Much easier to write than to practice. I am asking God to put many such opportunities my way. Ummmm someone may have to give me a swift (but loving) kick to remind me of this prayer when my human nature gives in to some whining about a “full plate!” Starting to day I have thrown away the phrase, “Be careful what you prayer for.” That, as I see it, is part of the problem.

  28. alsturgeon Says:

    Good thoughts, Pamela. I really like your observation that “be careful what you pray for” is part of the problem.

    And to play with that a little more… Taking care in prayer is a noble sentiment on the surface, but the rationale often used with that statement betrays an odd view of God. That God is waiting to zap us if we screw up and ask for the wrong thing. (Didn’t mean to get off subject, just something that always strikes me as odd…)

  29. Rochelle Says:

    Maybe we talk too much and we should simply hug instead!

    I believe love IS the answer. It’s about the choices we make. Will we choose to understand someone else’s point of view? Will we pray to understand God’s Will above all else? Will we be kind, and remember to laugh and do something self-less for someone else? Will we relinquish our fears to God and be the beautiful child of His that He put us here to be?

    Simplify. Agree to disagree. Respect one another and laugh together.

    I am a hungry Hippo. Thanks for including me.

    Peace.

  30. MsPamela Says:

    Okay, let me climb into the sandbox and play with that one too!
    What may seem “the wrong thing” to us may not be so to God. The other day I was talking to Vern, a housekeeper who came in to my Mom’s hospital room as my sister, a friend and a nurse circled her bed in prayer. “Vernon” asked to join us and one of the things that he said was,”Father I come before you too stupid to know what is good for me. The bad things that I gripe about become good things up the road and the good things I ask for rise up to bite me in my old butt. So Father forgive your stupid but humble servant and help me to try to act more like the me I was intended to be and less like the me I became in my religious arrogance. You want to give me the desires of my heart but I have forgotten what that is so just help me be more like you in thought word and action.” Vernon may be many things but he isn’t stupid. If he were, though, I think many of us could profit from being that kind of “stupid.”

  31. alsturgeon Says:

    Rochelle: Count me in as a big fan of hugging, too. 🙂 Maybe we could rename us all as the Hungry HUGGING Hippos?! Thanks for stopping by… Come back a lot!

    Pamela: I want to be on Vern’s side, no matter what the proper adjective turns out to be!!! I like his prayer a lot…

  32. alsturgeon Says:

    I was thinking a bit more about the hugging thing, Rochelle, mentioned, and I realized we haven’t even delved into the world betrayed by the maxim, “Actions speak louder than words.”

    “Writing people off” doesn’t have to be verbalized. Nor does the avoidance of intimate conversation in the name of getting along.

    Words are powerful. But so is body language.

  33. Coolhand Says:

    Al and Juvenal, Who’s this Carson we’re talking about? Johnny Carson? Carson Daley? Carson City?

  34. alsturgeon Says:

    Harry Carson. Former middle linebacker for the New York Giants.
    🙂

    Nah, a prof named D.A. Carson, a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

  35. MsPamela Says:

    In a world of “politically correct” and fear of lawsuits hugging has become pretty scare among some people. Go to a nursing home and watch their eyes light up or, if nonverbal, their bodies relax when you hold their hand or brush back their hair. Everyone who touches them does so with latex gloves. Ugh! Put your hand on the arm of a homeless person and ask his/her name and you will likely see tears form in his/her eyes. Same for many of the “unlovable” in our world. If all of us had to “clean up” before God loved us where would we be? I’d be at the back of the list. “Hungry Hugging Hippos” sounds cool to me Al & Rochelle!

  36. Larry James Says:

    Love your new beginnings! Love your heart and agree with what you say. Do we really have time anymore for places where you getted cast out, fired or worse for simply speaking your opinion? Keep going, you hungry, hungry hippo!

  37. alsturgeon Says:

    Thanks so much for the encouragement, Larry!

  38. urbino Says:

    Harry Carson. Former middle linebacker for the New York Giants.

    Now there’s a cat who knew a thing or two about postmodernism. He was all up in some Lyotard.

  39. James R. Knight Says:

    Al,
    Just spent some time on “Hippos” looking over some of my posts from a year ago or so. Thanks for bringing forward all the old stuff.
    I had forgotten how much fun it was putting those history posting together and how much I enjoyed the comments from the others.
    I’ll keep an eye on the new blog. You never know when I might be moved to jump in again.
    Since I recently became an official “Old Geezer” – meaning that my first Social Security check hit the bank a couple of months ago – trying to keep up with your intellectual heavyweights may burn out some of my few remaining neurons, but I’ll take the chance.

    I’ll also do my best to get along, as Rodney would say.

    Capt MidKnight

  40. alsturgeon Says:

    Great seeing you back around these parts, El Capitan! We’ve definitely missed you…

    I had a lot of fun converting all the old files myself. It took longer than it should cuz I kept stopping to relive many of the old conversations!

  41. urbino Says:

    Hey, Cap’n! You were missed.

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