Thank you for the excellent column by Shannon Casas in the weekend edition, “We’re not as divided as some think.” I can support this contention with personal experience.
Many years ago, I worked with a man named Bob who was a self-described conservative. I was a self-described liberal. We both followed current events and enjoyed discussing politics.
After some time, I detected a pattern in our conversations. I might broach a subject by saying, “You conservatives think such-and-such.” I would then explain to Bob what conservatives think. When I finished, Bob would reply, “That’s not what I think.” I would then ask, “What do you think?” When he finished, I would say, “Well, that’s pretty much what I think, too.”
Other times, Bob would start the conversation with, “You liberals think so-and-so.” When he finished telling me what liberals think, I would reply, “That’s not what I think.” Bob would then ask, “Well, what do you think?” After I explained my position, Bob would say, “That’s pretty much what I think, too.”
There are those who find it in their interest to set us against each other. All too often, we play right into their hands. They seize upon and amplify our frustration and anger. Anger makes us feel powerful, so we continue to listen to those who make us feel powerful, and we get angrier and angrier, and we end up pawns in other people’s power games.
Bob and I were fortunate that we got to know and respect each other before we began talking politics. We also shared a sense of humor and enjoyed playing practical jokes on one another. We found that we agreed on fundamental values. We just approached those values from different perspectives.
I can’t do better than to echo the advice in Bill Lampton’s letter to the editor. We should put aside the rhetoric of conflict and pick up the rhetoric of reconciliation. Let’s compete to see who can be the most gracious.
Brian E Moss
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