Can fresh ideas actually make us stronger? With civil discourse they can temper us and turn us into something strong and useful. Find out how! #temper #politics #character #civildiscourse #opposingideas #think #listen #dialogue #learn #teach #tolerance

Can fresh ideas actually make us stronger? With civil discourse they can temper us and turn us into something strong and useful. Find out how!

This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!

Can fresh ideas actually make us stronger? With civil discourse they can temper us and turn us into something strong and useful. Find out how! #temper #politics #character #civildiscourse #opposingideas #think #listen #dialogue #learn #teach #tolerance

Ancient Wisdom

“The Natives learned the value of adding temper to their clay before they fired their pots,” master Cherokee potter Joel Queen told us.

“Temper? What’s that?” I asked. I’d only ever head the word in association with my strong emotions.

“It’s something like sand, ground up bone, chaff, wood ash, or charcoal that we add to the clay.”

“Why would you need to add something to the clay?”

“Some clays need temper added in order to prevent them from cracking or creating fissures when they dry.”

Mr. Queen proceeded to demonstrate how to make a traditional Qualla Boundary Cherokee cooking pot while my mind stuck on the word temper.

Who would have thought you needed something that seems insignificant to make the clay stronger? Clay has plasticity, but too much of a good thing will make it crack and break when it dries out. Something as humble as chaff could make all the difference in a useful pot or one that gets tossed out.

Maybe we, too, need temper in our lives. Temper from fresh ideas.

How Can Civil Discourse Help Us Have Fresh Ideas?

I first heard the term civil discourse years ago while listening to a radio talk show where callers would pose questions for “Thomas Jefferson” (a Jefferson scholar who answered as if he were the real Thomas Jefferson). Time and again, “Mr. Jefferson” would remind the people he engaged with for the need for civil discourse when discussing weighty matters.

I don’t know if the term originated with Thomas Jefferson, but I do know we have come a long way since the days when our country’s founders sat in a stuffy meeting hall and had civil discourse about wildly opposing views. And I don’t mean ‘come a long way’ in the good sense of the term.

I don’t think the founders of our country had it all right, but at least they kept their discussions and vitriol confined behind closed doors. Nobody tweeted about the proceedings nor inflamed the masses with accusations.

The genius of civil discourse lies in the listening. How often today do we stop to listen for fresh ideas? Or do we cling bitterly to our version of the truth and refuse to believe anyone who differs?

The Power of Fresh Ideas to Temper Us

We need to listen, really listen to opposing ideas. Why? Because fresh ideas can temper our ideas and make them stronger. Or they can show us the error of our ways if we listen in humility.

The first test for whom and what to believe comes from the book of James.

“Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”   

James 3:11

We need to welcome opposing ideas—fresh ideas and learn to evaluate them. Does the speaker say one thing and do another? Can you rely on the speaker as an authority?

Once we make this first, basic evaluation, we need to remember the rules of civil discourse. You can find a complete list here, but they include things like humility, providing a welcoming environment, and searching for common ground.

Our country stands at a crossroads. How can we bring back the concept of civil discourse and engender a new respect for fresh ideas that will temper us and make us stronger?

Our country stands at a crossroads. How can we bring back the concept of civil discourse and engender a new respect for fresh ideas that will temper us and make us stronger? #tolerance #respect #freshideas Click To Tweet

Or should we consign ourselves to the flames of rabid controversy for the sake of the emotionally righteous high they bring into our lackluster lives?

Let us not forget how master potters create beautiful pottery pieces through a process of upheaval, temper, and fire. Without those elements, clay remains a useless substance at the whim of the elements.

Can fresh ideas actually make us stronger? With civil discourse they can temper us and turn us into something strong and useful. Find out how! #temper #politics #character #civildiscourse #opposingideas #think #listen #dialogue #learn #teach #tolerance
Cherokee Potter Joel Queen demonstrates how to make a traditional cooking pot.

5 Comments

  1. Civil discourse with a cancr cell
    does seem kind of hard to do,
    and that may be just as well
    ’cause I’ll fight until I’m through
    and one of us has bit the dust
    (right now, I think it may be me)
    but in this all I have to trust
    that in defeat there’s victory,
    that when Paul said ‘to live is Christ’
    he was not in fact insane
    and reason was not sacrificed
    when he went on ‘to die is gain’.
    I’ll therefore hold my head up high,
    but still…I do not want to die.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Tribute To A Fine WifeMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

You may also like

Follow Me!
%d bloggers like this: