As a society we are taught there are three (or four) things that should never be discussed: Sex, Religion, Politics (and money). I only agree that talking about money is unwise. But the rest are what we should discuss! If we were able to teach our children tolerance, compassion, understanding and empathy, it would be quite a different world. Instead we teach them not to talk to those who are different, or whose opinions are different from our own. This breeds contempt, misunderstanding, frustrated anger, and festering hate. Just the things the GOP seems to want people to feel.
Can there ever be such a thing as bipartisanship? Truly? What if we could change that? Would you try? I would and will. Do you believe that nothing should be off limits to public discourse. A little honesty, buttered with some empathy might go down better than angry rhetoric. At least that’s my mind.
I don’t want to listen to the other side either, truth be told. But neither do I want to see my world continue to be blown apart by hatred, anger, misunderstanding, rumor, and lies. I see no reason that can’t change. If we want it to. I am now on a search for a means to have real, open dialog with those with views opposing mine.
I wrote a few weeks ago about a lost opportunity to talk to the “other side” of an issue. Not many people want to listen to someone else’s side of an argument. We merely wait on our side of the conversation for something from the other to tear into and deny. Name calling is easier than holding our tongue. Spouting the same tired rhetoric is more appealing than using our own minds and hearts to listen. Hating easier than understanding. Empathy can’t be taught, apparently. Nor maybe compassion. But we can learn to understand one another. Maybe become more tolerant of our differences. But to do this we need to have real, honest communication with each other.
We know that our rhetoric has become empty phrases devoid of personal meaning. So let’s quit spouting the same old lines and come up with a new strategy. I’m thinking radical here, but honesty is definitely something to shoot for. I know that goes against the grain when talking politics, but honesty in political discourse–wouldn’t that be something?
Restraint will also need to be learned. Drop your preconceived ideas and ideology at the door. We need to enter into these discussions with an open mind. A very tough thing to do. I’ll admit I have a serious bias against the religious. I didn’t realize how closed minded I was, until fairly recently. I’m endeavoring to change that personality flaw. Perhaps you don’t fully realize that you are unreasonably closed minded about something or someone?
Brainstormed recently w/a friend about how to accomplish this, we thought the first thing we need to try to do is teach people how to think for themselves. A thing is no longer taught in US schools, along with civic responsibility (but that’s another blog). Too many people do not understand the meaning of the phrase “critical thinking.”
So we need some sort of public education format, Meetup groups and the like, to provide a place for people who want to understand, an opportunity to do so. Who would teach these classes? Good question.
Forget the GOP. Ignore the labels of Republican and Democrat. Understand that liberal and conservative are opposites, not hate groups. I’d like to see us stop labeling ourselves. African American, Hispanic, male, female, liberal, christian, conservative. I get that it is instinctual to label and order our worlds in order to understand them. However, this no longer seems necessary. Can’t we all just be “people”?
Want to help build bridges to the other side? Interested in understanding critical thinking? Want to debate the issues in an educated way? I want to learn how to do that. I am quite guilty of not wanting to understand opposing views, but I also know that it is unhealthy to do so. For all of us. Join us?