I am learning how to hold my tongue for the sake of sustaining relationships that are constantly threatened by a failure to master the art of conversation. I have an opinion about everything, yet I’m beginning to realize, so does everyone else. Yet my opinions label me a “liberal,” and the ability to name me on account of my beliefs reveals the power of language can be threatening. Before I get the chance to explicitly defend my position, I am criticized only to be defined as an umbrella term. Let me tell you—I am not a noun. I am a verb, and it is time people acknowledge each other’s beliefs as liberated human beings.
In “Repairing the Breach,” Heather McGhee, a progressive democrat, and Matt Kibbe, a libertarian, discuss their opposing views; but in no shape or form is their discussion what you’d expect. They are tolerant and respectful of one another, as they should be, but then go on to address the negatives of their positions as well as acknowledge the positives of their opposing forces. There is no real argument, only an example of what it looks like to solve problems from the bottom up, with responsibility falling on the individual.
It takes plenty of strength to surrender your beliefs and genuinely attempt to understand where the other one is coming from. For quite some time, I’ve been attempting to achieve this standard of conversation because I am tired of disputing controversial topics, only to leave the conversation feeling unresolved. I cannot change your mind, but I can venture to critically listen as I would expect anyone to do with me.
However, part of me feels unsettled by this notion of discourse. It’s polite and avoids confronting the bad taste of a hard-to-stomach conversation, but can any progress really be made? What social change will be accomplished if we just agree to disagree? Some would say plenty, especially in light of tolerating different beliefs, whereas others would determine our problems are too serious to play safe when searching for a solution.
It’s hard to say which style of discourse is the best fit for me, specifically because I feel a great need to express what I establish as “right” or “wrong” if it directly affects the wellbeing of any human being or even this planet we inhabit. One’s freedom to believe in a different God than my own does not attack my standard of living so long as we can trust that no harm will be done unto each other. One’s racist credence, however, perpetuates a system that works to oppress my brown body. I will not come forth and admit anything positive about being prejudice. You can guarantee I will voice what I believe in, but I also promise I will enter that conversation with respect. At the very least, I will listen and engage, and I can only hope the other side of an altercation will do the same.
To listen to “Repairing the Breach” visit: https://onbeing.org/programs/heather-mcghee-and-matt-kibbe-repairing-the-breach/#commentform