How to Discuss Politics in a Dignified Way
Social Justice Essay
“So, what do you think about impeachment?”
It’s Thanksgiving, and once again we can count on Uncle Charlie to bring up politics. As we approach another contentious election year, how can we maintain our Christian dignity when disagreeing with people we care about?
A common suggestion is to avoid politics altogether, and sometimes this may be the only solution. However, a better option might be to respectfully engage in polite discussion. When polarized Americans are retreating into two separate camps with their own cable news networks, websites, and radio shows, intergroup interactions could greatly benefit society.
When a friend or relative disagrees with you, ask whether that relationship is worth it, suggests author David Olarinoye. If so, consider giving up the goal of winning the argument. If you can, make the new goal coming to a truce. In this way, you know that there will be disagreement and that you’re not going to win but you’re not going to lose either.
Make yourself be heard, share the facts and statistics, and ask the other person to provide their sources of information. And let the other person do the same thing. Be a good listener. And remember that you will not convince someone that they are wrong and you are right.
Most people want to solve the same problems; they just have slightly different solutions. Seek out ideas that you both agree with. And keep it about the ideas – don’t make it personal. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
So when Uncle Charlie wants to talk politics on Thanksgiving, pass the gravy, and don’t necessarily pass on the opportunity to understand each other’s point of view just a little bit more.