Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 16, 2011

The Island of Discussion

It will come as no surprise that I enjoy watching travel shows on television. Whenever I go to South Texas to visit my Dad, we always set aside time to watch selected travel programs. It’s because of my Dad that I developed an early interest in the nations and the people of the world. I have lots of childhood memories of listening to Dad talk about his travels and about the people he met along the way. To this day I still enjoy learning about the world’s people groups and the interesting places where they live. And I still enjoy listening to my Dad share new insights he has gleaned about people and places by watching and recording our favorite travel shows.

This past Sunday evening I learned something new as Cheryl and I watched an episode of Rick Steves’ Europe, a popular travel show featured on public television. Rick has authored several travel guides and is regarded as an expert on travel to Europe. The episode that we watched was entitled Scotland’s Islands and Highlands. Rick’s shows are crammed with interesting information and offer viewers useful information about must-see sights and more. On this particular episode, Rick met a local man named Arthur. As they strolled along the Highlands, Arthur turned to Rick and said:

Do you see that island out there Rick? That is the island of discussion. In the old days, if there was any arguments or quarrels, the parties were put out there on the island with cheese and whiskey and oat cakes, and they were left there until they could sort their problems out. And as a result of that, in over 1,500 years of history, we have only had one murder in this place.

Wide-eyed and in a pensive tone, Rick replied, “Effective. The Island of Discussion.” To which Arthur added, “It works.” Apparently it does. One murder in fifteen-hundred years of history is a remarkable track record.

We can all learn a thing or two from this obscure little footnote in Scottish history. It’s far too easy for folks to opt for anything but having to sit with another person to sort out disagreements. People often resort to things like giving others the silent treatment or venting their frustrations by gossiping, name-calling, making slanderous slurs, or even engaging in acts of aggression and violence. These options only make things worse. Putting ourselves in the vulnerable position of having to sort things out face to face is a bit more difficult but ultimately offers a better opportunity for resolving differences. So, the next time you have a dispute, take your cue from our Scottish friends and try to settle it on the island of discussion. And remember, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18).

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