It is no secret if you are a reader of my general blog, attend mbcc and/or have talked with me about pretty much anything that I am a Barack Obama supporter. After my last post about putting a bumper sticker on my car, the first time I have EVER done that in my life, I received this comment,
and my response . . .
W – thanks for the comment. Yeah, herein lies a great difference in how
we think about transparency. In the church I serve, it is vital that
people know where I am so they can do their own vetting. If I pretend
to be neutral, that is not seen as trustworthy because people know that
we all have an opinion about everything. Many operate under the idea
that if you have a public opinion you cannot be fair, where as some
think that if you do not share a public opinion you are hiding
something. Folks will know that I am fair precisely by the
knowing/seeing where I operate outside of expected allegiances. Hope
All of this draws attention to cultural shifts in our understanding of and expectations about transparency, disclosure and information sharing. While I fully claim my place as an "open source technology" kind of guy, I ultimately think that discomfort with too much sharing is about control. We think that by controlling information we can control an outcome. While this may be true in the abstract or in another time, it is harder and harder to do when in fact we CANNOT control the disbursement of information, nor IMHO, should we.
Like good Presbyterians, we try to stand in the middle–often sharing just enough information that no one can clearly pinpoint what exactly we are saying. We know we should share information, but we REALLY don’t want folks to see what we are doing for fear of what they’ll do with that info. So, to use an example, we hide it within poor web design, we don’t produce digital versions, and we basically discourage people from even looking. At our core, we think too much sharing is bad. Now, I do not deny that people have been burned by over-sharing, but I think this way of operating only heightens sentiments of suspicion, fear and mistrust.
We need to change. The idea that we can be so neutral in our own opinions and thoughts is, to me, an insult to the discerning ability of the community. While there are obviously things that should not be shared because of the nature of some issues, for the most part I think we should be up front and honest about what we believe, what we think, etc. The day where the leadership needs to worry about their opinions carrying undue weight is slowly coming to an end. In fact, as I alluded in my response to above, I think people are looking for leadership that is honest and open about their beliefs, struggles, joys and faith. This honesty is what folks are yearning for from the church. The facade of being neutral only perpetuates inherent suspicion about people’s motives, whereas knowing exactly where someone stands allows us to discern whether they are being fair and just.
So . . . I will continue to share, attempting to be excruciatingly fair, and basically pushing us to be more open with our information. If we can all do this, not only will our leadership be stronger for it, but our communities will be more trusting towards one another. And if we can do just that much, you just never know what else can happen.