Proverbs 11:12 (NKJV)
“He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his peace.”
Proverbs 11:12 (The Living Bible)
“To quarrel with a neighbor is foolish; a man with good sense holds his tongue.”
It happens that we get into arguments or disagreements with others– over things like politics and religion, or over trivial little things like sports or idle trivia. It is so easy to slip into angry words that become personal attacks and barbs. And so often, we come to later regret what we said and we feel apologetic for how we made others feel in the moment when we are so heated and short-tempered.
We also grow frustrated with each other as well as ourselves when we come across folks who don’t necessarily see our points of view or agree with us. We wish everyone would see things our way and agree with us completely. We wish everyone would all just get along and think along the same lines as us. But that is not reality. Reality is that we all come from different backgrounds and different experiences and we all have a right to our beliefs and opinions and ways of thinking and feeling and they should all be respected and acknowledged.
People may hate us for being LGBT and may not understand our struggles for equality and justice. People may not agree with our interpretations of Scripture. Rather than trying to find common ground, some people simply focus on what it is that sets them apart from us. They seem to forget that we are people and would rather label us as less than human.
The lesson this proverb seems to provide to me is this: Don’t respond to hate with hate. If you have an argument or if you can’t say something nice or positive about your neighbor, silence is best. Rather than escalate a scene or build on the tension and animosity, simply defuse it by holding your tongue. Let your kind actions speak for you. Best way to avoid conflict is to not participate in one– simply walk away if possible.
Walk away from the insults and personal verbal attacks– distance yourself from the hate and maintain your dignity by calmly walking away. There is no need to respect or acknowledge hate and no need to respond to it while heated and hurt. Regroup and cool off and by leaving the engagement, you are sending the message that you will not stand for hate or tolerate it. You are leaving the hostile or toxic environment in favor of a place where you can find support or calm.