Changing the Conversation


As we enter into election season, I have a question for you.

What do you think of a person who:

Supports Donald Trump

Supports Joe Biden

Supports Black Lives Matter

Supports the police

Is pro-life

Is pro-choice

If you have any general feeling that allows you to dismiss any of these people, I would ask you to think again.

Is it possible for someone to support any of these issues and not believe or support every aspect of them? Is it possible for someone to believe that they are doing what is best for the world around them and trying to make it better rather than doing what is worst for people with opinions that differ from theirs? Is it possible that people can love others who have different opinions?

I think that answer is, “YES!”

That’s the only answer that can start a dialogue that can begin to heal all of the divisions that separate us lately.

I am not looking forward to the rhetoric of the next couple months. I will not be participating in it, because I don’t believe the extreme and outrageous views that are picked up and focused on by the media. I don’t believe that people who disagree with me are inherently or intentionally evil. I believe that you can rarely change someone’s mind by insulting, demeaning, and dismissing their views.

I believe that we have much more common ground than we generally care to admit, and we need to connect with each other in order to work with each other. Otherwise, our country is in big trouble.

I believe that there are many of us who don’t want to be a part of the hatred and division that is so rampant in our country. Unfortunately, our voices don’t make the news headlines. We don’t speak up for fear of being yelled down. I think it’s time to start speaking, always with grace and empathy, but speaking truth and kindness nonetheless.

I have a friend who decided to stop gossiping and speaking poorly of people as a spiritual practice. I only knew because we shared those kinds of things with each other, but most other people had no idea what she was doing. One afternoon, as we spoke with a group of friends who started to blame and judge another person, she simply added some small, positive thing to the conversation. “Isn’t he the one who helped Julie with her lawn last week?”

No one noticed but me. This small statement created a seismic shift in the conversation, and suddenly example after example of this man’s goodness and generosity came out. It was always there, just hidden by the one occasion the group was focusing on. I was amazed, and vowed to try it for myself. I can tell you that it works.

The conversations today are much more charged and volatile, but I believe it is possible to bring in a little grace. We may not change someone's mind, but we may just turn an argument into a conversation, and who knows where it could go from there.

I know we can do better than this. Will you join me?

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© 2019 Amayzing Graces

Karen May

Inspirational Catholic Writer and Speaker

based in Austin, Texas