The Old Courthouse, St. Louis, MO. Site of the Dred Scott Trials.

We were at the pool when the news came out about the Charleston shootings. I don’t bring a smart phone, a tablet or anything with a battery to the pool. It’s a tough call on whether the water or the pool deck has destroyed the larger number of devices. Because of this, social media was awash in opinions by the time I saw anything at all.

Ironically, my son missed two days of swim practice at a Pen or Pencil, a leadership in race symposium put on for high school students by the National Parks service. I showed him the various posts and asked for his reflections based on what he had learned.

Dialogue.  Actually listen and talk, but mostly listen.  You have to hear what the other person is saying to respond with any meaning.

Ask Questions.  A lot of the dialogue came about as the students would give their opinion and then one or more of the leaders would ask a question, challenging both the originally speaker and the other students to think about what various statements mean.  Protest don’t riot begs the question when does a protest become a riot?

Everyone deserves a voice.  You know how it goes with most discussions. One or two people are heard but they don’t let anyone else talk.  At Pen or Pencil, all of the students had a say.

Be constructive.  If you don’t like the way the world is, take your anger and channel it into something that will allow you to be heard and will make a difference.

All in all, he came out of the experience feeling a lot better about our community and his place in it. He had been heard.  He had heard the voices of others and knew that in truth they wanted the same things.  They all wanted the opportunity to improve their community and make something of themselves while helping others to do the same thing.

What does this have to do with being a Christian? Blessed are the peacemakers, my friends. It is time for us to quit talking about how picked on Christians are in this country and go out there and make some peace through thoughtful dialogue.