With apologies to Dr. Henry T. Hodgkin a medical doctor and Quaker missionary in the early 1900’s, I wish to share with you a philosophy that he wrote just prior to the first World War. He was a true pacifist and was feeling the brunt of the national ardor of becoming part of the War of all Wars. It speaks to me as what a Christian attitude should be. I have taken a little license to paraphrase his text to bring common vernacular and understanding. It is primarily what kind of attitude one should have when confronted by someone with a differing opinion.
- I will always seek to discover the best and strongest points to any brother’s position.
- I will give credit for sincerity and persistence in opinion.
- I will try to avoid classifying him and assuming that his position is only because of a class or membership of which they belong.
- I will emphasize our agreements and convergence points.
- When others criticize, I will try to bring out favorable points.
- When there is misunderstanding, either I of him or he of me, I will go to him directly.
- I will seek opportunities to pray with him.
- I will try to remember that I may be mistaken and that God’s truth is too big for any one mind.
- I will never ridicule another’s faith.
- If I have been found criticizing another’s viewpoint, I will seek the first opportunity of understanding if my criticism is just.
- I will not listen to gossip and second-hand information.
- I will pray for those from who I differ.
Arguments rarely solve anything. It is when the rational and reasonable come together willing to listen and understand other points of view that change will happen.