We are living in increasingly divisive times. There is a false narrative being presented to every person that says, “If I don’t agree with your views, you are my enemy.” We may not use those exact words, but we do this all the time. That “block” or “unfollow” button is inches away, and hey I’m just trying to reduce stress in my world right?
It’s natural to want to reduce the amount of conflict in your life, but is it really the best thing for us? I firmly believe that personal growth can only happen in a challenging environment. More than personal growth though, when we surround ourselves with only people that we agree with, we revert back to tribal instincts. The instinct goes, “If you’re not in my tribe, you’re the enemy.” Further entrenching ourselves in our own ideals by living in an echo-chamber leads to divisive and radical ideologies that won’t move humanity forward.
I am a big proponent of having constructive dialogue about critical issues with people who do not agree with me. My college roommate and I would often watch content that only one of us agreed with, and it was a great experience. He would show me a well-researched Stephen Colbert monologue, and I would show him a John Stossel documentary. He sent me a link to an article on human induced climate change, and I would show him some research that opposed it. We discussed issues that were important to us, and I didn’t have to change my mind to be his friend (although on some accounts, I did actually change my mind). I learned so much about why he believed what he believed and where he was coming from on some of the more radical ideas he had.
It’s inspiring to me when two individuals can have a discussion about typically polarizing issues without turning to childish name calling or spouting off inaccurate tribal platitudes. That’s what will move our society along. Not divisively paring off into our tribes, only to arm ourselves with biased statistics and radical idealism, but embracing the idea that there are other ideas out there and they should be treated with the respect due to every human.
What do you say? Will you join me in an effort to bring civility back to the political conversation?
If so, here’s my challenge to you. Reach out to an acquaintance or friend that disagrees with you politically, and go to lunch or coffee with them. Spend almost the whole time listening. Really make an attempt to understand their perspectives. Don’t try to convince them your way is “correct”. Truly listen, and you may be surprised to find that despite the fact that they want to go about it in a different way, they too are just trying to make the world a better place.
This is day 6 of 30 in my challenge to write every day for 30 days