| Chase Tibbs |

You can already feel the tension. The tug is coming from all sides. You feel you have to commit to one or the other. The middle ground is as grey as can be. And along with the wins, there are the losses that come with how you approach the conversations. On the one hand, if you don’t bring up conversation regarding the latest situation/news, aren’t you participating in the “quietness” around the current issue? On the other hand, if you bring up conversation on the current news, you may be risking your relationships because of your differing opinions and perspectives on said latest situation/news.

We live in a world where disagreeing is not tolerated. Multiple perspectives cannot find a harmonious community. Diversity in theologies and ideologies is unable to sit at the same table.

If only there was a handbook for conversation around the holidays when sitting with family and friends with whom we disagree. Racism and the #BlackLivesMatter movement; sexism; politics; religion; America’s consumption obsession; ISIS/ISIL; the global refugee crisis: these are all realities not often resulting in harmonious conversation around the dinner table.

Our questions regarding how to handle this loom large… Should we spend every waking minute bringing awareness to the heavy realities of others in our world? Should we engage every chance we have to talk about how we as a community or as individuals can address issues of injustice? Should we fully risk our relationships with our family and friends for the sake of fighting the injustices? Should we risk our commitment to fighting the injustices for the sake of maintaining relationships with our friends and family? Are we just aiming for friendliness and avoiding all hard conversations? Are we shining light on important issues, or causing dissension?

Unfortunately, there is no “How-To” Handbook on how and when to approach difficult topics with the people we love most. There is always risk involved; at times, we may even risk losing a relationship.

If it was easy, though, it probably wouldn’t be so important. We take the risk because conversations like these, repeated over and over, can change how the world treats a whole lot of people. Therefore, we must embrace the challenge in all its complexity and risk.  But above all – whether we disagree or not, think our response is better than another’s, act in opposite directions – we must commit to come together. No matter how high the tension, no matter what the challenge, no matter how heated the conversation gets, we must never stop coming to the Table. We must never stop striving for harmony. And we must never stop embracing this interconnected, interdependent, diverse community we call Humanity.