Boyd Matheson: Pleasant distractions prevent crucial conversations

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Whether the issue is homelessness, race relations, the opioid epidemic, a struggling neighbor, personal debt or failing family relationships — convenient, even pleasant, distractions cannot and must not become the substitute for crucial conversations.

For the past year I have regularly (and maybe even annoyingly) said that as communities and as a country we must get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. My immediate audience for this sentiment, and for most of my writing and commentary for that matter, is myself. Over the years I have often been uncomfortable with uncomfortable conversations — which prevented real progress in many areas of my life.

It is so easy to avoid or ignore what author and philanthropist Joseph Grenny defined as the crucial conversations. Sometimes we even create convenient diversions to keep us busy and at a safe distance from deeper dialogue and more rigorous thinking. Whether the issue is homelessness, race relations, the opioid epidemic, a struggling neighbor, personal debt or failing family relationships — convenient, even pleasant, distractions cannot and must not become the substitute for crucial conversations.

Erwin Lutzer once described a quaint German town during World War II that had a picturesque little church that sat near the railroad tracks. It became the embodiment of pleasant distractions preventing crucial conversations.

Lutzer shared an eyewitness account from the town: “We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because we felt, what could anyone do to stop it?

“Each Sunday morning, we would hear the train whistle blowing in the distance, then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!

“Week after…

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