How to Have Pleasant Political Conversations
When it comes to keeping your freedom, apathy is your worst enemy. We should all take at least a mild interest in the governance of our nations and be willing to stand up for our beliefs. We should be ready to stand up for the rights or freedoms of another when they are infringed.
Still, a lot of people rationally avoid political discussion altogether because it’s often soaked in contention and outrage. We can change that. Here are some things I think we should all be doing to enjoy a political dialogue that’s saturated instead with critical thinking and courtesy.
Allow people the benefit of the doubt — especially when it comes to motives.
Is someone on Twitter or Facebook saying something you think is willfully ignorant? Try giving them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they didn’t mean it the way you’re interpreting it.
This is even more important before you go calling someone hateful, bigoted, racist, a Nazi, etc. When you accuse someone of being motivated by hate, you’ve ended all possible productive conversation. Allow your opponents the benefit of the doubt. They probably have good intentions, just like you do. Love your neighbor. Don’t be blinded by your pride that wants you to believe you are the paladin of purity waging war on the awful hate-goblins.
Moral of the story: Love your neighbor.
Avoid “my guy / your guy”
You might like a certain leader a lot. You might think they are so smart. But every once in a while, because they are not perfect, they will do or say something that you shouldn’t defend. Don’t give up your integrity by defending something you know deep down you would not defend would it have been said or done by someone else!
On other other hand, maybe you really dislike a particular leader. Maybe you think they are really stupid and do all the wrong things. Don’t give up your integrity and attack them for what they don’t deserve to be attacked. You can hurt the credibility of even the most worthy cause when you fabricate the stupidity or malice of your enemy.
Criticize only where you think it’s due. Give credit to all people who merit it in your honest estimation.
Moral of the story: Show integrity.
Nobody enjoys talking to a grouch. If you want to talk reason into anyone, be someone reasonable. If you get outraged, you’ll not only lose anyone you’re hoping to persuade, you’ll also lose all the level-headed and critically thinking people who might have otherwise agreed with you. Be calm and polite.
Moral of the story: Be civil.
What this would look like:
Imagine being able to have a conversation about politics, even on a controversial issue, coming away from it still disagreeing with each other, yet feeling optimistic because you know that you and your “opponent” are both listening to each other and reasoning as best you can.
Imagine the satisfaction that will come from consciously maintaining your integrity by giving credit where you know you should be given but where it might be tempting to withhold. Imagine political conversation being calm and composed.
Be the change you want to see in political conversation.
Originally published at https://roughingit.substack.com.