Here’s the thing: All Liberals are not trying to take down our way of life. The guy who lives next door and has an Obama sticker is most likely a pretty nice guy. He just voted for a different guy than me.
I know I’m risking the entire operation here by starting with politics, but it was an easy target. What if, instead of yelling at each other, the two (or 3-5) sides of the equation actually started off with the baseline assumption that the other side ISN’T in cahoots with Satan, or the Chinese, or some other Asian/demonic alliance?
I understand that to try to build bridges with the other side is to risk it all in a political race. They’ve got to rally the base, to get in the news. Any publicity is good publicity. Name recognition is the goal.
But I’m not talking about the candidates. We’ll let them strut around in front of the cameras like peacocks in $950 suits and get the sound-bytes. I’m talking about the dude next door. It’s high time we had him over for dinner.
When’s the last time we had somebody who didn’t look like us over for dinner? There’s almost nothing that my wife’s corned beef casserole can’t fix.
I’m not saying we have to be best friends with people with whom we vehemently disagree on policy or even worldview issues. But to demonize their character — who they are as a person — doesn’t do anybody but the media any good.
It all starts with the baseline assumption that the people with whom we disagree are people first, and have complex worldview issues second. And they don’t have a red phone in their room with which they discuss ways to bring down capitalism with their North Vietnamese government contacts.
They most likely don’t even have a land line, and went over on their anytime minutes last month talking to their mom who lives out of state. They were talking about the uncle who moonlights as a hotel lounge singer. They didn’t even mention the debt ceiling.
Perhaps we could have them over and talk about sports? They were wearing a Braves hat the other day.
Here’s my prescription for being a part of the ATB revolution regarding politics, taken from my actual life:
- Be quiet. It’s easier to confirm when somebody has less-than-stellar motives when I can actually let them speak.
- Ask good questions. The worst thing I can do in this situation is to lead with the Fox News talking points: “Do you see any way out of this crisis?” It just puts them on the defensive and doesn’t actually start conversation. Get to know people, as opposed to their opinions. It’s tougher to hate a person when I know their kid’s names.
- Stop being right. That’s going to be the toughie, because according to the prevailing sentiment in my own head, I actually AM right. That’s where a healthy dose of reality will come in very handy. Reading an article in the Economist doesn’t actually make me certified to speak into fiscal policy on an international level. So I should stop acting like it does, and instead ask good questions (see the previous point)
What methods have helped you to Assume The Best about another person’s political views?