The holidays are quickly approaching. For many of us, these days entail many different social gatherings. People will be getting together for parties at the office, family reunions and festivities with friends.

During these gatherings, a variety of topics will arise in conversation. After all, we cannot talk about the weather for hours, even though we sometimes try. With the different topics that arise in conversation, there will be a diversity of thoughts. With some of these thoughts, we will agree; with other thoughts, we will disagree. This is part of the human experience.

However, for many of us, this experience has become rather challenging, unfortunately. Because of the challenging nature of some conversations, people tend to talk about weather more than any other topic, or sports or movies. It is simply easier to do so. Weather, sports and movies are great for discussion, but we should not be afraid to discuss the deeper things of life.

I think it will help society when we do.

This past summer I attended a church convention in Minneapolis. One of the main themes was the topic of civility. One of the main speakers said that civility is a word we need to hear more of today. People tend to attack other people with whom they disagree.

Instead of having a respectful conversation concerning issues, people first tend to tear down others because of what they believe. Once this happens, emotions often enter in and animosity reigns. This is unfortunate.

It is fair to say that people of good will desire unity more than division. I think it is also fair to say that society feels more divided than unified today. If we want to help the cause of unity in our culture, we need to be willing to have a civil conversation. Though we disagree with people, we should not tear them down.

This approach to life is not going to bring about peace and harmony.

If we choose not to discuss the deeper issues of life, people will remain talking about weather, sports and movies, yet at the same time frustrated because society does not seem to be changing for the better. Apologies and forgiveness may first have to take place in certain relationships, but these actions of humility are important if we truly desire unity. These actions of humility can provide a foundation for deeper conversation.

When I was in high school, I remember having many great conversations with a friend who practiced the Bahai faith. We would go back and forth asking questions to one another about what we believed and why we believed what we believed. It was not a difficult circumstance. Rather it was something I looked forward to taking part in.

We would have these conversations while we worked together at the ice arena. It strengthened our relationship. These conversations do not need to be a burden. In fact, they can be a blessing.

Jesus prayed that all may be one (John 17) as he prepared to pass from this earth. Union with God and union with one another is the goal. If we desire union, we need to be willing to have civil conversations. This can lead to truth, goodness and beauty in a way talking about the weather, sports and movies cannot.

I think all of us can agree that this is something our world needs more of today.