Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Quality of Our Conversations

Yesterday at a luncheon Glenn Beck came up in conversation. Before long, most people at the table had weighed in on Glenn Beck. For the record, I didn’t participate in this conversation, because I don’t find it helpful to criticize public pundits, who aren’t present to defend their positions.
These types of conversations seem futile to me. I question whether public pundits are really serious about their positions or if they’re just posturing because that’s their job. The fact that so many pundits reverse their positions from season to season gives me pause. Even if the pundits are sincere, such conversations are more about venting than about changing anything.
The comments swiftly moved beyond criticism to character attacks. One woman announced she was leaving, because Glenn Beck is one of her heroes, and she had heard enough. It’s like I said in a previous blog: sometimes our opinions feel like assaults to those who hear us speak.
I am keenly aware of how close recent elections have been with the country almost evenly divided on candidates, and presumably, on the opposing parties’ platforms. I wonder why we assume that most of those within earshot will be in agreement with our positions.
If the country is divided pretty equally, doesn’t that suggest we are as likely to sit down with someone who is diametrically opposed to our positions as someone who agrees with us? This reinforces for me the importance of learning how to converse civilly with those holding different views.

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