There is no end to controversy these days. You don’t have to look far to find heated, prolonged, and public disagreements. I am not sure about you but I am getting weary of it all.

It’s like we are getting stuck in the deep, thick muck. So stuck, we can’t move or even see how we can escape. Like a little child, we are crying for someone to lift us out and put us back on solid ground. But sadly, no one is coming.

Being controversial can be a good thing. It can challenge the status-quo. It can inspire deep conversations. It can inspire new thoughts and course of actions. But we can’t confuse controversy with rhetoric.

Rhetoric is when we use insincere and meaningless speech to persuade others to take sides. It can invoke hate, mistrust, and anger. Rhetoric organizes us into easily controlled groups. It’s a “them” versus “us” mentality. We begin to believe the rhetoric as truth. We accept the conflict and chaos as the norm. Kind and thoughtful people stop listening and become hurtful.

And we keep sinking deeper into the muck.

How can we rescue ourselves?

One way is to start thinking. Yes – thinking. Sounds easy, but we have stopped thinking. When we stop thinking for ourselves, we become a perfect target. A perfect example of this is the Facebook “I have been hacked…”  flood of posts. It seemed everyone lost the ability to logically think about how or why their accounts were hacked. They believed it was true because someone told them it was.

And those who want control and power – who want us to stay stuck in the muck – see just how easy it is to keep us there.

Can we begin by challenging our own thoughts, opinions, and beliefs before we start to challenge others? Can we pause to think, reflect, listen, and learn before reacting? Can we examine the motives behind the rhetoric and once again, have meaningful dialogue?

I believe we can but we have to be willing.

And just maybe – we can become unstuck.