Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Essay: About “Chum for Thought”

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About “Chum for Thought”

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Why we need to talk, think, work, together to understand others, get along.

Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters

About “Chum for Thought”

This essay was the first installment of my newspaper column “@ChumForThought,” published in the Dayton Review. The series was intended for my neighbors in a small, rural, Iowa town. I hoped to encourage conservatives to think about their ideas and liberals to come out of the closet.
“Chum” is the word for chopped fish waste that is thrown overboard to attract other fish – especially sharks.
I believe that comparing ideas can be a force for good that attracts us to each other. Strangers often become friends as they talk and work together, uniting to solve mutual problems.
Many people like to avoid controversy like they would avoid swimming with sharks. You hear friends say “let’s talk about anything but politics and religion.” That’s completely understandable. And, if a friend tells me that, I’ll be the first one to back off and respect his or her need for comfort without confrontation or fear.
However, as Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I think it is good to compare notes and discuss ideas. We make both ourselves and our companion better for the time we spend trying to understand each other.
We become enemies if we withdraw and refuse to talk, empathize, think, or compromise. People who can’t talk together become suspicious and divided. They become fearful and hateful. They often resort to combat to resolve their differences. Unthinking alienation is not the path to peace, security, and brotherhood.
The ability to communicate about issues, including our values, is what draws us together as friends, families, and communities. When we can communicate, we can work together to solve problems. We can unite for common goals and for our common good.
I believe that we become better people when we choose to compare and discuss ideas. It can useful to know what is going on and discuss events. But, it is often pointed out that gossip, by only discussing people, can be damaging. Coming together about ideas is best.
This column will focus on the practical side of practicing “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” I hope that you will find it to be encouraging and thought provoking… chum for thought.