How do we find our political voices?
First by listening.
Just like I found my singing, speaking and vocal coaching voice, I did well to truly listen to, and learn from, many other voices first. But here's the important thing: We need to listen for the truth. I learned that some vocal training is dead wrong, and harmful. I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum, and have been sent scathing and horrible "facts" in emails about candidates- "facts" which turned out to be "fiction". I have to admit that some of the lies were things I wanted to believe.
Second, by examining our own viewpoints.
All of us have veils of deeply held convictions that we see through. None of us can see the whole picture; that's God's vantage point. Yet I would submit that together we can see a lot more of the picture, if we take into consideration those who see things in ways we don't.
Third, by realizing there are legitimate reasons people can be for the other side.
I am absolutely sure of this, because I personally know people, even pastors, whose patriotism, intelligence, compassion, love, faith in & close walk with God I do not in any way question...on both sides! These are the people I love to discuss issues with, because I trust them and value their voices, and quite frankly, I believe that my opinions are best formed and informed by truly considering theirs. I have indeed been corrected on more than one occasion.
Fourth: by expressing our political voices.
Not to voice our informed viewpoints is to abdicate our civic duties. Thank God we live in a country where we don't fear the secret police storming our doors in the middle of the night because we voted in a certain way. However, I believe there are two reasons to voice our views:
1. To identify ourselves with our own sides, blasting those who don't agree with us with horrible names and lack of values. This of course changes nothing.
2. To inform and influence the other side, invite the kind of debate that could actually influence our own opinions!
If, like me, you choose the second reason, I would like to offer some guidelines.
Rules Of Engagement:
- Check your facts with non-partisan sources such as http://snopes.com .
- State your case clearly.
- Back your opinion up with verifiable facts, then give the source where you found those facts.
- Never, never engage in name calling or sarcasm. To challenge a candidate's intelligence, character, integrity is fair game and valid concern, but use facts... and never challenge your discussion partner's faith, intelligence or personal values. That will influence no one and only adds to the polarization and division which has sickened us for too long.
- If in a chat, engage the other voice with respect. If they don't give your voice respect, either quietly leave the conversation or if you can do it without sarcasm, state why you disagree.
- Be OK with people not agreeing with you. Remember... their voices are as important as yours in a free society. Some of the people I love the most have vastly different opinions about how to handle problems that we face. The love between me and these people is not diminished by our political discussions. Oh yes, it is indeed possible to agree to disagree in love.
- Hold our media voices accountable! Check out CNN, Fox, MSNBC, PBS etc. from time to time. Hold all political parties... including your side... accountable also. If you catch them misrepresenting the truth, or not fairly representing all of the truth, contact them and comment... again backing yourself up with facts and sources.
Lastly, we all must remember that just because an internet site says it's so, doesn't mean it's fact. We should research what we find and help squash rumors and lies that lead us and others to false conclusions.
You may wish to do as I do on the Internet: Google a candidate's name plus an issue (economy, security, etc.) that is important to you. When search results come up, look for links to appropriate websites and blogs from both sides, read and educate yourself and then engage in passionate but respectful discussion. One important note: make sure you read what is written on the site so you know what is being discussed. Otherwise, trust me, your political voice will fall on deaf eyes.
As always, I invite your comments, but please understand that I have dedicated this blog to sharing "all things vocal", not to discuss partisan politics. I hope you will chime in with your ideas about getting all our political voices heard, but please limit your comments to the process of discussion and debate itself. So ... what do you think?