UPCOMING DIVERSITY CONVERSATIONS - Members Only
NOVEMBER DIVERSITY MESSAGE
Written by Bill Heffernan LCPC, CEAP
I met two old friends for a meal today. We asked each other about health issues, bragged about our kids, and talked (only a little) about work. I love them; they are decent, intelligent people with loving spouses and spectacular children. Each of them has an advanced degree in a human services discipline. They are the exact opposite of me politically. I think of myself as a little to the side of the center line politically, and I perceive them as extreme in the opposite direction. There are many important issues about which we strongly disagree. When I talk with those who share my political views about my meal and conversation with these old friends, they get agitated and angry. They say, “How could you be friends with people who believe the things they believe?” “I am glad I wasn’t there!” or “I can’t believe educated people can believe the things they believe!” I understand those sentiments. My political beliefs are, I believe, aligned with my values and consistent with my behavior.
If I had to guess, I suspect my friends believe that they are a little to the side of the center line politically and that I am extreme in the opposite direction. When they discuss our meal with those close to them who share their beliefs, I assume they say, “How could you be friends with someone who believes the things that person believes?” or “I can’t believe an educated person can believe the things that person believes!”
Can I have a relationship with people who hold beliefs different from mine? Can we be friends if you and I hold different views on abortion, racial justice, housing justice, climate change, and presidential candidates? Can we talk about our beliefs and maintain regard for one another, or must we separate into our camps? What number of ideas must be shared to belong to a particular “us”, and what happens if my beliefs change? Must I find a new group, and where and how does that stop?
The holidays are upon us; how will you handle these issues? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts!
Please check out Braver Angels to see how they address our current political world:
Braver Angels seeks to depolarize American politics. Our work is rooted in grassroots organizing. From the grassroots, however, our volunteer leaders (supported by a small staff) leverage Braver Angels programs and unique organizing structure to impact community life and American institutions.