For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about and supporting others in taking steps towards healing the seemingly uncomfortable divide between our families, communities, and countries. It can seem so hard to even open a conversation about our political differences, let alone locate common ground we can agree on.
I have people in my life I love dearly who appear to hold political views that differ radically from mine. We’ve chosen not to discuss politics. I think this is because of our desire to maintain our connection and respect for one another, based on mutual love and caring.
Yet there’s a distance between us that wasn’t apparent to me before, even though we’ve always voted differently in the past. So, I’ve been curious about how to enter into a dialogue that would create greater connection and renew our past connection.
I recently had an opportunity to do so, being in the car with two family members. I began our conversation about a recent situation that happened here in the USA — in Charlottesville, North Carolina — and I said:
“So, regardless of your views on how the situation was handled, or who you think was to blame in Charlottesville, I’m wondering what your thoughts are on keeping or removing prominent statues depicting leaders of the Civil War’s Confederate Army. I ask because I have mixed feelings about those images.”
Then I told them what my mixed feelings were and asked them theirs.
We ended up having a very respectful conversation that moved into our differing feelings about our current president and other political issues. On at least three different occasions I pointed out that it seemed we wanted the same things and they agreed — every time. The entire conversation lasted about 20 minutes.
As far as connection goes, it was exquisite for me. It served as a kind of reuniting and remembering of why I love them. Why their presence in my life matters so much to me. And why their opinion matters to me as well.
None of us changed our fundamental views about how we wanted things to change. Nor did we change our views about our president. What we did was remember this: though our preferred methods were different, our needs were the same. We were all loving, caring people who want the best for all beings; want people to be able to support themselves and receive some support from the government; want dignity for everyone; and want the arms of our government to work together toward the common good. Each of us value respect, and want all people to experience safety and peace.
The distance between us that I had felt before melted significantly. Not entirely, but an opening was created that I am still enjoying.
I believe these kinds of conversations, along with systemic change, are imperative to supporting ongoing healing across our world. Don’t you?