Twice a week, I co-host a political podcast with a Republican. I’m a Democrat. This means that twice a week I sit down and engage in political debate with someone who feels very differently than I do on a great many issues.
We start each show the same.
“No shouting. No insults. Plenty of nuance.”
Willingly volunteering for political confrontation is most people’s worst nightmares. It’s certainly my mother’s worst nightmare but I do it willingly because I believe we desperately need more civil discourse in the world. I believe that if we can’t discuss – even debate – the things we feel most passionately about then we are destined to fall for the siren song of rightness ringing in our own ears.
It is a not so subtle act of faith to sit down across from someone who feels differently than you and say, “Tell me why you feel that way.”
As with almost any act of faith, this one has made me a better person.
To engage with someone who disagrees with you is to accept that maybe – just maybe – you could be wrong. To engage with someone who disagrees with you is to take the scraps of thought in your own mind and attempt to quilt them into something that someone else could possibly recognize. To engage with someone who disagrees with you is to recognize that you can’t see it all, understand it all, or solve it all alone. To engage with someone who disagrees with you is to open yourself up to rejection, misunderstanding, and hurt… sometimes at your own hands.
To engage on any level is to be vulnerable. To engage about politics is to be vulnerable far beyond the personal–it is vulnerability on an almost global level. What if what I think about violence is wrong? What if I what I think about the other party, the other president, another country is wrong?