How to Talk Politics So Others Will Listen

When decisions and actions of a significant part of a community are experienced as dangerous, threatening, or unjust by others, that community (or family or nation) is forced to figure out what it stands for. That’s what is going on now in America. Our conversations about how to handle the pandemic and how to come to terms with our nation’s systemic racism are surfacing long-simmering disagreements and resentments about who we are. Social media is ensuring that those issues can’t be pushed back underground and ignored. In order for our nation to survive, we are challenged to find common ground.

Conversations between those with opposing views are not pretty when they devolve into righteous judgmentalism. Facts get lost in the heat of moral debate. A divide widens between people as they trade accusations and defensiveness. Perfectly reasonable people dig in and start saying unreasonable things and behaving in less than reasonable ways. It falls on all of us to keep the conversation going in a productive direction. Like it or not, we are all now involved in redefining the America we live in and the America our children will inherit.

Judging others’ behavior is a normal and useful human behavior.