Thursday, September 17, 2009

Being Open

Jan Paulsen
I was looking through my files the other day, trying to gain some perspective on “then” and “now” when it comes to where we are as a church and a nation. Jan Paulsen’s words in the November 9, 1995, Adventist Review have special meaning in light of the current acrimonious, sometimes hateful, potentially deadly, and fundamentally unChristian political rhetoric. “Being open”, when reason is drowned out by shouting, listening is seen as unproductive, and compromise is ridiculed as weakness, is a fundamental test of patriotic duty and Christian virtue.

“What does it mean to be ‘open’? Essentially it means to be truly able to look beyond yourself without transmitting threatening or intimidating signals. It means not that the borders or boundaries that mark our personal space are obliterated, but that they are easily crossed back and forth. It means that when you listen politely you do, in fact, also hear what’s being said to you. . .It means we acquire the grace of being quiet and walking gently so as not to frighten off the other person with too many words or too much loudness.

“Openness means to be transparently genuine. You are clear in what you say, and where you stand is understood. In contrast to political posturing . . . openness does not operate with a range of private agendas that must somehow be accommodated. Political astuteness is the ability to predict what is going to happen and then support it before it happens. But a political environment is a most hostile place in which to spend your days, for in that environment all those around you are strangers. You may well know their names, you may well listen to their speeches, you may even sit next to them, yet you will all be strangers, each not really knowing the other person. Openness, by definition, is transparent, genuine, nonthreatening.”

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