Jon Gibson's Reviews > A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation: Creating safe environments for conversations about race, politics, sexuality, and religion

A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation by Wayne Jacobsen
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it was amazing

There is no question when you look at the news, the internet, social media, or any kind of medium today where there is interaction among people or expressions of opinion that our society is polarized. News is often portrayed by the extremes. Gone are the days of unbiased or objective reporting. Instead, news is spun to convey the predominant views or ideologies of whichever news source is reporting.

How does one communicate in such a society? How does one navigate conversations in a healthy and intentional way when there seems to be such polarization? Is it possible to navigate differences in a charitable and hospitable way? Do differences between us need to result in hatred, ostracization, and sequestering us into tribes?

“Our differences cannot be an excuse to vent our anger and animosity.” That is what the authors of “A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation” write in the introduction to their book. Contempt, suspicion, and accusations do not need to win the day when we come face to face with each other and our differences. Religion, race, sexuality, and politics are among the most divisive topics in our nation, but do they need to be? The authors say no.

Wayne Jacobsen, Arnita Taylor, and Bob Prater, three people with unique perspectives from one another, have come together to write a book about how to navigate these dangerous waters. The way that they have done it serves as an example to others of how to move forward. These three authors have come together in a conversation around a table, and talk with civility and grace rather than anger and hatred. As Jacobsen has written in the book, “Our most difficult issues can only be navigated when we show genuine respect for points of view different than our own.”

So the authors set out to teach the reader a new language, a language of healing, a language that will not divide but instead will draw us together. They explore the idea of a solution that comes from building consensus, a solution where everyone feels that they have contributed. Throughout the book, the authors even share that they did not always agree during the writing of the book. But the disagreements between them did not result in animosity and anger. They were still able to converse without coming to full agreement and still love each other at the end of the day. I’d like to think that’s what most of us desire, to see people as human and lovely rather than simply seeing them as their viewpoints and pet issues.

As Jacobsen writes, one problem we face today is that issues can’t be solved because we’ve, “turned the conflict itself into profit.” There is not necessarily a financial gain when we agree, Divisiveness makes the better story. It seems we’ve grown tired of the stories about coming together despite differences, the selling point seems to be what divides us. When only two mutually exclusive options are offered, debate is stifled as are conversations. We can’t move through when our options seem so limited.

There are nuggets throughout this book, offered from the unique perspectives of the authors. This stuff doesn’t feel like rocket science, but it’s amazing how hard simple concepts like what they authors lay out can be for people. I don’t say that to demean in any way what the authors have shared, but instead to scold the rest of us who seem to have allowed concepts which should come naturally to us elude us instead. Some of this just seems to be common decency, which begs the question of what happened to it to begin with? Where did we lose our way?

It comes down to growth. Do we want to grow in such a way that we are better tomorrow than we are today? For that growth to happen, we need honesty, with others, but more so with ourselves. But growth requires freedom and honesty together, and as the book says, “If we can’t be honest, we can’t grow, and if we don’t give people the freedom to grow, they’ll give up trying to see the issue fairly.”

This book isn’t written from an ivory tower, a few experts come together to proselytize others, instead, it’s written from a place of humility and experience. As the authors say in wrapping up the book, “We are not academic experts or social scientists conducting elaborate studies. We merely desire to encourage others to embrace a broader and more generous way of looking at those who differ around them.”

The language of healing may seem easy on paper, but it’s much harder in practice. But learning a language is rewarding and mutually beneficial, not only for the one who is learning the language, but also for the one who can now be understood in a way that they weren’t before.

“A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation” is a book worth reading. The theories and expertise that are offered here have been formed in the doing, in exercising the practices that have been laid out. If you have grown tired of the stalemate in which you have found yourself with those whom you don’t always agree, the language of healing shared here by the authors may be helpful for a meaningful way forward.

(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)
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Reading Progress

October 13, 2019 – Started Reading
October 13, 2019 – Shelved
October 13, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
October 26, 2019 –
page 93
44.71%
November 5, 2019 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam McCoy I love this.....
But growth requires freedom and honesty together, and as the book says, “If we can’t be honest, we can’t grow, and if we don’t give people the freedom to grow, they’ll give up trying to see the issue fairly.”


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