Every election season, the party faithful are asked to volunteer at the phone banks, calling our neighbors to urge them to get out and vote…Republican, of course. I refuse. It’s true that I’m not good at cold calling strangers and don’t like doing it, but that’s not the reason I declined. I try not to make decisions based on what I like, but what needs to be done. My problem is that I don’t want people calling me to sell me anything, including their ideas. A few years ago we dispensed with our home phone altogether. I have a line for my home office, but our private line became nothing but a nuisance. We call out on our cell phones. Our friends have our cell phone numbers. The only people who ever called our home phone were people we really didn’t want to talk to. Based on the do-not-call laws we have now, I don’t think we’re unique in that. So, why would I do to someone else what I don’t want done to me. I have serious doubts as to the effectiveness of such a strategy today, if it ever worked.
It has also been said that one of the best things we can do to get out the vote is walk our neighborhoods and talk to people. I suppose that might be true, but if we’re not talking to them at any other time then we’re just strangers at the door, no more welcome than any other kind of solicitor. Linda and I don’t answer our door unless we have reason to believe someone we want to see is knocking. For reasons specific to our situation we’re extra wary of people we don’t know at our door. So again, why would I approach other people in a way I do not want to be approached?
Where does that leave us? How do we get our message out? Flyers? Don’t put trash on my door either. That’s exactly where it goes. I don’t even look at it. Postal mail is just about as worthless. Email? OK if it’s opt-in, but how do you get people to do that. The first contact must be made somehow. Social media? Maybe, but not everyone uses it.
I’m asking myself, how would I get the attention of someone like me? In a word, relationship. Someone I know and have some level of respect for shares something with me and based on that respect I consider what they have to say and may act on it. It isn’t necessarily a close relationship. It’s just that I know who they are and have reason to believe there may be truth in what they say. I think there is a lesson there. If we want to be effective in sharing our vision for our country, our state, and our city, we need to establish credibility. Credibility begins with familiarity, assuming we conduct ourselves in a way that inspires trust. We need to be out at community events. We need to make a point of talking to our neighbors when we see them throughout the year and not just when we have something to sell them.
It’s not so different from the kind of thing those of us who are Christians should be doing anyway. We have a message that is much more important than anything else we might want to say. We should always be on the lookout for ways to share the truth of the Gospel and the love that drives it. So let’s get out there and share the truth, both great and small.