I am pretty sure we might actually be in danger of running out of dumpsters in which to have fires in this country.
While some individuals like to start a disproportionate number of dumpster fires, they’re coming from all directions—conservatives and liberals, religious and non-religious, men and women. There is no monopoly on dumpster fires. The toxic conversations burn so brightly, it’s hard to look away from them. Their powerful glow beckons us to join in the mayhem, only to fan the flames and add to the toxicity.
How do we put out all these dumpster fires?
The problem with trying to put out a dumpster fire is that it tends to make it bigger. Entering a toxic conversation adds oxygen to the flames. As much as we want to prevent the toxic fires from spreading and burning down the country, when we try to extinguish them directly, we usually just end up getting ourselves burned. It’s hard to save a person in a dumpster if that’s where they want to be.
So what do we do about all these dumpster fires?
We fight fire with fire.
We need to remember that fire itself is not bad. We use it to keep warm, cook with, and have conversations around.Fire is only dangerous when it's in the wrong place or at the wrong time. And dumpsters are bad places to have fires.Click To Tweet
Rather than avoiding fire, we need to make sure we start our fires in the right places and in the right ways. We need to use fire in a constructive rather than destructive way. Instead of using fire as a way to burn people, let’s use it as a way to bring people together. Around our living room fireplace or our backyard fire pit or our campfire. Let’s invite our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. Let’s be intentional about inviting those who are hungry for warmth, for sustenance, for love.
People aren’t mean or nasty around a good fire. Their shared experience and proximity around crackling flames gives them a way to connect with each other that they don’t have when they are attacking strangers on the other side of the country from behind a computer screen.
So start a lot of fires—literally or figuratively—and make them burn bright. Instead of attacking those who disagree with you, try getting to know them.Start respectful, productive, and inviting conversations. Seek to understand other people's perspectives. Talk about things that matter. Go to where the life is.Click To Tweet
We need to give people an alternative to the dumpster fires. The more fires we start that aren't in dumpsters, the more people will begin to look away from the dumpsters and towards something that gives life. Click To Tweet
Life doesn’t always burn pretty, but it does burn bright.
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If you like this article, you might also be interested in:
- 4 Strategies for Having Fruitful Conversations about Science and Origins (at BioLogos)
- What Happens When We Focus on What We Have in Common? (at THRED)
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/61574583@N04/5838679803/
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Also published on Medium.