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Christian Counseling - An Unforgiving Society?

Often, the American people are described as a "forgiving" people. We like to give people second chances. While there is some truth to that claim, I have been astounded by the overall lack of forgiveness in our society at large. I am a bit of a political junkie. I listen to talk radio. I watch political talk shows (I even tivo them). I have become very concerned about the direction our country is headed. In fact, I am writing this blog from my shelter which is in an undisclosed location.

While there are many concerns I have politically, I have become increasingly concerned about the level of discourse we have in our society. We seem to be living in the age of "talking heads". I wish I was referring to the David Byrne, gigantic suit, Talking Heads of the 80s. Instead, what we are subjected to in our society are people who come into our living rooms shouting at one another. No one on these shows subscribes to the old saying that we have been given two ears and one mouth and should use them proportionately. Instead, the people on these shows seem not to listen to the other person at all.

There is one exception. Each person does seem to listen for one slip of the tongue. When they find one, they pounce. The person who slips is not allowed to revise their remarks. Instead, they are vilified. The most recent example of this is Janet Napolitano, the head of Homeland Security. After the "underwear bomber" was thwarted, she now famously said that the system had worked. Of course she was wrong. Immediately, calls came for President Obama to fire her. While I am no fan of Napolitano, does this knee-jerk response seem wise in our "forgiving" society?

Several years ago, then President Bush was asked to name some mistakes that he had made during his time in office. He fumbled for an answer, and, in the end, did not answer the question. Are we to believe that he did not think that he had made any mistakes? Of course not. He simply realized that had he admitted to any mistakes, those statements would have made headlines around the world and been used against him. This is called "gotcha" journalism.

How does this impact our communities? Well, I have seen many couples in therapy act as if they are "talking heads". They seem not to listen to one another. They do not allow for the possibility that the other may have made a mistake or simply misspoken. They take one statement out of context and hold it over the other's head. As they argue about who said what two weeks ago and what they meant by it, I find myself asking them to stop and tell me what they think and feel about the issue today... right now.

Instead of taking one statement and holding it against your spouse, your child, etc., allow them the space to communicate more fully what they intended to say. We all misspeak. Give your spouse the same benefit of the doubt that you would want them to give you. Don't engage in a "gotcha" marriage.

In our country, our community, and our families, we are dealing with serious issues. These issues need to be dealt with seriously and soberly if we are to have any hope for our future.

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