BREAKING GRIDLOCK WITH RISKY BONDS

 

“Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness; anger concealed often hardens into revenge.”    Bulwer-Lytton, 19th century poet.

David Brooks, in a recent column, contends “…we have a polarized, dysfunctional, semi-corrupt political culture that prevents us from getting anything done. To reverse that gridlock we’ve got to find some policy area where there’s a basis for bipartisan action.” (NY Times 10/27/15)

What if it is OK for humans to let loose with some ire while attempting to make a point with someone? Clergy are supposed to keep their cool. At least that’s what I always assumed while pastoring churches. I suppressed my anger on the job for a few years but one day, when I was tired and feeling a bit vulnerable, a church member yelled at me. She exploded while I was greeting people after the church service. “I am enraged,” she fumed, “by what you expressed in your sermon this morning, Rev-er-end!” When laity resort to three syllables to get a minister’s attention it often means they are not happy, and in fact they’re usually annoyed.

I remained calm but I was seething. I just looked at her, said nothing, and continued greeting people in line. She caught me in my office soon after her outburst. She stood and stared at me for a bit and then she said “I’m not here to apologize for my attitude at the sanctuary door but to tell you that I’m still angry because I felt you just sloughed me off. That made me more furious. I was boiling and you ignored me. My hunch is you’re one who would counter with ire if you were not in a pastoral robe and away from the church. In fact you might be one to shout and maybe lose it. Am I right?” Why did you just take it?”

“You’re right” I admitted, “I was probably just as angry as you were at the time.”

“OK then, that’s all I wanted to know.” And she left the office.

Perhaps that is what is happening within the House of Representatives. The fiery sentiments unleashed by Freedom/Tea Party members disclose their anger and rage. They may be revealing honest opinions which may be a form of truth-telling. Why do the liberal-to-moderate counterparts choose to not reciprocate with their ire? They might as well be sitting there in pastoral robes. What if the ‘left-wing,’ by refusing to let out their honest feelings, are making their counterparts become more frustrated and furious?

What would happen if Congressional members risked revealing their deepest emotions one-on-one with those whom they disliked from a distance? They might button-hole a political foe on the front steps after a session, invite a surprised counterpart to lunch where both parties risk running deep by divulging their personal fears, anger, pains, compassion and dreams. It remains a two-hour tops, one-and-only private personal encapsulated bond. The following week they might try it with another colleague.

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