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How do we attempt to make change when people can't even speak to one another if their political affiliation is different than theirs?  How do we find common ground when things are polarised to such an extreme?
 
pollinator
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Pavel Mikoloski wrote:How do we attempt to make change when people can't even speak to one another if their political affiliation is different than theirs?  How do we find common ground when things are polarised to such an extreme?



What I do is applying the advice given in the Bible, to 'love your enemies' and pray for them. If you pray for them, you stop seeing them as real ennemies (people you hate). Then you can meet them, talk with them, be nice to them.
Turn that polarisation backwards, be the change you want to see.  
 
master pollinator
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I think it's possible to find common ground with almost anyone.  For example, my best friend on our road in the country is a political conservative, and I am an extreme progressive, yet we find common ground in our mutual love of birds.  The next door neighbor when I'm a my dad's house in town is a conservative, but we find common ground in gardening.  To do real work of change, not just debating and trying to pass laws, but real actual physical work of helping people and the planet, I think we can avoid politics and find common ground.  Not saying politics isn't important, but we needn't start there, in my opinion.
 
master pollinator
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I think it's hard when you're constantly being told that the old, trusted sources of the news aren't trustworthy anymore. Wherefrom, then, do you get your information, political pundits on infotainment programs?

I think its equally hard when cuts to the educational system have left so many students so far behind that they aren't sure what the state of reality actually is.

I think it's really difficult when every time one side tries to compromise, say by trying to implement a health care plan originally conceived of by the other side, that other side doubles down on its intransigence, pulling their side even further out to their side of the spectrum, until the traditional proponents of that side are no longer comfortable with what is being said and done.

I think the answer is to find common ground with the moderates to wrest control of the conversation, and then of the country, from the extremes. I think the best way to start for the average person is to do what they can to generate a groundswell of grassroots support for real local representatives that aren't simply political mouthpieces or corporate puppets.

I think the first, most basic place to start is law enforcement. I think it important for police forces to reflect the cultural (could be read as racial, except there is only one race, that being human) and ethnodemographic makeup of the communities they police. It is also crucial to punish most harshly any ideologies within police forces that institutionalise racial bias or discrimination on bases that have nothing to do with the enforcement of law.

Simply put, the police can no longer be seen as a force of oppression.

As to discussing our differences, we first need to get to the point where we can sit, have a beer or share a meal, or yes, do some gardening or yardwork together and actually communicate, as opposed to firing salvos of political propaganda at eachother. If you can't talk, you can't get much done together.

When discussing different issues with people holding opinions radically different to my own, I have a simplistic and devious way of discussing the rights or wrongs of a thing. I strip issues down to their bare bones, as I see them, usually focusing on the free will and rights of the individual.

When discussing such things as what some feel are extreme limits to their individual liberty, it is often difficult, as the argument rarely stems from a place of reason. Still, flipping the argument around and showing how others' rights are limited to offer more liberty for all, or pointing out how difficult it would be to get the same benefits offered by society for the same amount of money paid in taxes, but on an individual basis, they find it difficult to dismiss the argument rationally.

When discussing abortion rights with someone religiously opposed to the practice, I will often take their argument to its absurd conclusion, that all potential life is sacred (or, as Monty Python said, "Every sperm is sacred, Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.") I will then often wrap up with the real and sometimes fatal consequences of denying access to a critical lifesaving procedure to those who need it.

For those who just have to see the clip:



Sometimes, Monty Python brings us together. It doesn't always work, though.

There are those upon whom humor has no hold. A longtime friend of my much better half's grandfather was so literal in her belief that Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat was too risqué. Reading your audience is crucial.

It may well be impossible, to be frank. So much of the politics of the United States has been reduced to motivation by fear, and it's hard to take people's fear away from them, much harder than to use it, to stoke it to a smoulder, or an incandescent rage, irrespective of reason or reality.

It also might not be necessary. If the extreme alt-right of the conservative spectrum keep on sliding right, they might finally go further than the bulk of conservatives are comfortable going, slipping off the edge of their flat earth. At that point, a disillusioned right-of-centre populace will likely be more receptive to gestures of inclusion from across the isle.

I think that the most important time to try and reconnect with people on the right side of the spectrum is after the pendulum swings, and the power rests with the left again. I think what is needed is a slowing of that pendulum, when it gets into appropriate range. I think, to extend the metaphor, that if the speed of progress is balanced with measures to enrich the working political right (blue collar conservatives), and to help industries and communities to adapt to thrive in new economic realities, and to make those realities work for as many as possible, then the swing back to the right, years down the road, will be less pronounced, and perhaps steady progress can be made towards the centre-left.

Just to be absolutely clear, the above isn't a statement of fact, but opinion. But I firmly believe the only way out of the polarity is to reject fear politics and identity politics both. They need to be recognised as the tools of manipulation they are, and discarded.

-CK

 
pollinator
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This question reminds me of the recent internet meme that has the statement something to the effect of “the left wing and the right wing are part of the same bird.” Though I feel this is a bit too trendy for my way of thinking, it does cause thought.

The way I feel we get passed the polarity in the U.S. (I can’t speak for other nations) is to begin to remove the label from our self. Once we think we are one kind of person, we see the world in reference to that. It’s the lens through which we see everything. What if we dropped the lens? If we can stop thinking of ourselves as one of my kind and other people as one of those kinds, that will be a good starting place. The whole idea of an “asile” is already starting us in the wrong frame of mind.

From there, I think we take it a step further than Inge Leonora-den Ouden suggests. Loving our enemies is certainly something that the Bible teaches. But, what if we stop thinking of others as our enemies from the start. I believe Inge is correct that our minds will change about one’s enemies once we start to have concern for them. But, what if we simply loved unconditionally from the beginning?

What if we loved unconditionally? Since Inge brought up the Bible, I will offer that my understanding is that Christ was not concerned with the governmental structure or operations of Rome or even overly concerned with the daily workings of the Sanhedrin. He was about loving relationships (and repentance, if you study carefully). But, His whole discourse from Matthew 5, 6 & 7 makes this explicitly clear. To answer my own question, in part, I think the result would be blessing and rest.

In my long-winded attempt to answer Pavel’s question, we are only going to find lasting common ground once we realize that our common ground is the fact that we are human. Not this kind of human or that kind of human. In my experience, this is the way I’ve been able to love people I used to consider unlovable.
 
pollinator
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My personal take on promoting change in the community is to start by finding the common ground and attempting to leave the polarizing topics, like politics, religion, etc. out of it as much as possible. I find lots to talk about with fellow gardeners, regenerative agriculture enthusiasts and people who are interested in hearing about permaculture. Focus on things that you have some ability to influence and minimize the rest as much as possible. My life is a lot calmer since I stopped following the news.
 
gardener
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We are one race, human. We are many people groups. Some groups define themselves by location, color, religion, politics, and on and on forever.

I do not understand why people groups choose to dislike each other. In a recent Permie post, a citified member mentioned not wanting to buy land too far into the country for fear of danger: a la Deliverance. Really? Myself, I am a small town girl, not a country girl, and from all the way across the nation at that. So it’s not my connection to ‘everyone’ in my area that makes me lack fear. People everywhere are people. Some bad; some good. Exercise appropriate caution everywhere you go.

Some time ago, a Permie asked for a ‘safe area’ recommendation in the South. This person had heard that Southerners were sooo bigoted. That is a caricature. While there do exist a few idiots, Southerners generally judge a person on their own merits.

Here’s my experience… I live near a city that is 70% ummmm dark skinned. When I lived in that city I experienced so much resentment. Here, it is poor folk who ride the buses. Due to baaad decisions and debts, I too, was poor. As I saved for a car, for a couple years, I had to ride those buses. After a while, some ongoing conversations began. The crux of one series of conversations was: “You have it so good, because you’re White, and a Woman.” Yes, spoken as capitalized words. I was speechless. Huh? My boss after all was black, and a man. (The best boss ever too!)

One of my Honey’s co-workers was all resentment in a conversation… “You White people with all your Money”…. My Honey just looked at him. “What money, I’m working here, right beside you! Where is all this money coming from?”

How is it that in an area that is 70% black, the white folk have soooo much power to keep the blacks down? This, in a city with, at the time, a black mayor, and, as represented by the general population, a predominately black city council. Oh! I know, it’s by choosing to be a victim.

I believe we each are each responsible for our own success, and failures. We are responsible for improving our own lives. Some of us just had to start from lower on the scale. I will never be rich. Hopefully, as time marches forward, I will struggle less.


As for us, we do belong to one people group. This group is called Christians. We have friends who are not. We have one friend who is a rabid atheist. Others, who are more polite about it. I must say, when I came to the understanding that God chooses His people, it became so much easier to get along. It is not my responsibility to convince someone to invite Jesus into their heart. If God wants them, He’ll get them. It’s my job to be civil. As Inge stated, it’s my job to love.

Political ideas do not have to divide us. My happiness does not depend on convincing you that "you are wrong" and "I am right". There is not "one" way to solve the world's problems. I tend towards being a libertarian, where it does not cross God's law. I would like see folks fund thier desired changes from people who agree with them. Yes, I promote the idea of private funding. I do not believe social change must occur at the end of a gun. You know, taxes. Pay 'em or else!

So keep you mitts off of my stack of "stuff"!
 
pollinator
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Could I leave my children in their care?
This is the question I ask myself.
Everything  else can be worked out.
I unfortunately have family who I could not leave my child with.
Their strongest held values would put my kids at risk.
There is no bridging that gap.
Sometimes other people hold views that are inimical to your very existence.
But I need not seek out that conflict.
Life is too short to look for fights.

I often find that my "political allies" hold their positions for reasons I don't agree with,if reason enters in to it all.
In the same way, I find my political competitors  might have excellent reasons to oppose my positions, or promote their own.

I tried to explain to a co-worker that it was rational for any state that valued it's own sovereignty to pursue nuclear weapons.
He couldn't get past the idea that that state was North Korea.
I wasn't saying that North Korea was good,  or that it was good that they have nuclear weapons.
I was pointing out that they were not crazy to want them.
He couldn't get that.
All I managed to do was create a gap between him and I.
I only talk food and gardening with him now.


Mostly, if an aisle has formed, you are too late.
Someone has taken a position inimical to your life.
If they havent, there is no aisle,at least not for you.
I have worked for and with racists.
Since they were not actively trying to string me up, and they needed my help, we got through it.
Would I trust my children with them?
No.
Neither did I socialize with them,or discuss anything beyond the job at hand, when I could help it.
The aisle was there.
We worked at the place where it the diverging sides crossed.
If anyone's mind got changed, it was theirs.
I still think I'm deserving of equal treatment no matter my skin color.
Go figure.

This forum is a brighter example.
We have a huge spectrum of political views represented here.
But due to the relentless application of Paul's vision, we don't get sidetracked by this diversity of political positions.
Avowed communists can talk beekeeping with anarcho-capitalists and no one gets bent out of shape.
The very dictatorial control that makes that possible creates an aisle for some people.
I myself would not go to the physical space that Paul controls, because that is an aisle too far for me.
So be it.

There is plenty of spaces left for us to collaborate, here or in the rest of the world.
You might cross swords tommorow with the man you broke ground with today, but for most of us that means we will stay our hands till it becomes a matter of life or death.
So much the better.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Chris Kott wrote:... As to discussing our differences, we first need to get to the point where we can sit, have a beer or share a meal, or yes, do some gardening or yardwork together and actually communicate ....
-CK


Exactly, Chris!
By the way, that's what we do here with our Community Garden project ('Buurttuin' in Dutch).
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
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... and of course I agree with all others who say there's only one 'race' or 'kind' of people: the human race.
All people are human, and they're all different individual persons.
 
William Bronson
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My church is paying for members to go to an implicit bias course.
Most of my church is older,white and progressive.
I think this course is waste of time and money.
Its not that I don't think they might have some unconscious bias,I 'm sure they do, as do I.
I'm just more concerned with the explicit bias in resurgence in this country.
My church family tend to be navel gazers.
They like to plumb the depths of their own motivations, and try to be come better people.
All good and well, but I'm more concerned with macro aggression from anyone than micro aggression from trusted friends.
Its a matter of priorities.

I also become frustrated with bogymen.

If you are afraid of school shooters or illegal immigrant gang members weigh the likelyhood of encountering these involuntary hazards against other such hazards in your life.

If you think a lady in a pants suit or man with entirely normal sized hands are the problem,you are conflating problem with symptom.

If you think government is the problem, there are plenty of places where law is hyper local, and you wouldn't want to live there.
If you think government is the answer ask the masses stuck in the European suburbs how these socialist paradises are working for them.

We might take the luxury of extreme positions for  granted  , if we live in a moderate country.

Most people who live with the outcomes of such extremes crave stability over everything else.
We are in danger of putting ourselves in that position.
Take an absolutist position and impose it.
Watch as your opposition hardens.
Conflict sharpens and the stability you take for granted vaporizes.
Maybe you cynically seek this, knowing the vast majority of people will cling to what every promises to restore order.

I am constantly stunned by outrage at other peoples privileged, with a blind eye turned to ones own.

Cant make a decent living with a high school diploma?
I was never brought up to expect that. Why do you think you deserve it?

OK, you feel like everyone should be served, regardless of race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, etc.
What about the two skin heads who just walked into your establishment?(NOTE: skinhead doesn't = Nazi,but the two are conflated)

Its not a baby till its born? Its a choice? Well, no leave then, leave is for medical conditions, not choices.
Preventing implantation of a mass of cells into the uterine lining is killing an unborn child? Well, since that happens naturally all the time, why are you not upset over THOSE children?
Gods will? If god wills it, then abortion is OK?

Dogma , taken to logical extremes proves to be unreasonable.
Compromise is the  inevitable alternative to chaos.
So lets start there.


OK, so I went in deep, and I tried to be even handed...
But maybe I wasn't.
I'm NOT trying to push buttons, I'm trying to shed light and engender empathy.
I'm NOT trying to argue any of these points, I'm trying to show that there are at least two sides and no matter what side you are on, you probably dont want your view point atken to logical extremes.

 
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