It is one thing to say “Love one another” and quite another to do so—especially in times of conflict. The book of Proverbs seeks to impart practical wisdom and guidance for life. It is designed to be applicable for the wise, the foolish, the naive and the discerning. There are none of us who cannot benefit from instruction and wisdom. But as usual, understanding the concept turns out to be a whole lot easier than living it.
Be humble. We are all sinners and don’t think for a moment our good intentions change that. Everyone of us is complicit in stereotyping, assuming ‘facts’ that don’t fit individual people. Everyone of us tries to simplify the world by talking about ‘us’ and ‘them’. Try to discern the ways you are complicit. Instead of assuming you understand, assume you don’t. It will lead to a lot more understanding.
Acknowledge before you add. We must interrupt our assumption that what we heard is what someone meant. The only way to check that out is repeat it back and ASK if it matches. This is one of the most basic of listening skills. Especially in a conflict situation, it validates and shows regard.
Be more curious. Consciously avoid using racial or gender descriptors. Saying,” women are…” or “democrats believe…” might be convenient generalizations but the language is lazy. Learn about the person rather than use the label. None of us can speak for a race or a gender.
Such mindfulness is only possible when we actually live like “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Let it be so.