Permission to Speak Freely: “Let’s Talk as Equals”

See links to podcast below.

In a post I wrote for entitled Speak up or Shut up: How Conversational Cowardice is Killing this Country, I told the story of an experience I had with a Non-commissioned Officer when I was in the Air Force. In short, what happened was that the NCO used his rank to completely silence me in a conversation. I used this story as an illustration for a concept I call “de-ranking conversation”.

Whether we intend them to or not, most of our conversations happen in frameworks that are upheld by socially accepted ranking systems. As I’ve witnessed it, when conversations happen in a context where someone believed to hold a “higher social ranking”, it is virtually impossible to have the conversations we need to have in order to move our society forward into an age of cooperation and compatibility.

I talk about this concept in more detail on The Humanize Podcast. It was fun and engaging to talk with the hosts, Courthney Russell and Emily Braucher. Sore throat and all. 😁🤣. I hope it serves you and gets you thinking.



And if you’re interested in having de-ranked conversations on subjects as diverse as Race and Ethnicity to Healthcare, check out Living Room Conversations.

To listen to the follow up to the above episode of The Humanize Podcast, go here:



3 replies »

  1. A certain centurion seeks healing from Jesus for his servant. He is an important figure in the community. He knows it. Jesus knows it. Everyone else knows it.

    He is an ironic figure though. Depending on the version of his story, we see various indicators of how important this man is, but the personal interaction AS HE brings it to Jesus is very humble. I think it is easy to overlook the fact that he seeks healing for a lowly servant. He isn’t seeking healing for himself or a relative, but a servant. He seeks it from Jesus, which is humbling.

    But far more than all that, he makes a point to ask that Jesus merely say the word. No need to be summoned to his house.

    Then he says that he is a man of import. In the military he sends this one to do this and that one to do that. He too is a man in this pecking order, and understands all of that.

    By pointing this stuff out, he is humbling himself before Jesus. He is rolling up all his greatness and submitting it to this lowly peasant prophet (probably from a different (minority) race).

    Jesus is amazed by this. Jesus remarks on this.

    I find it to be the inverse of your post, but as a mirror image, I think it is INVOLVED.

    At the very least, may we all seek an approach to Jesus and one another LIKE that centurion. The world is a different place for those who do.


      • After looking at it again, and thinking a bit more carefully, perhaps “inverse” isn’t the right word for it. Sorry, 90% of my blogging is done with babies and/or toddlers on my lap, in my face, untying my shoes etc…

        I thought the centurion story related to yours. This was a great man. A military man too. But he was humble, and THAT humility impressed Jesus.


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