Six identified Republicans, six Democrats, and four undeclared. We’d gathered to talk politics, agreeing to check all weapons at the door. We declared that we intended not just to talk but to listen. We wanted to hear the other side’s viewpoint from people we already held in high regard. So we tried. We really did try.
And it worked!
We learned that since November’s election, we’d all changed in at least one way. None of us relies on a single source of news and information any longer, as we now feel every source is biased to some degree. Some of us supplement our preferred-biased news with news from the opposing bias. Others replaced former favorites with new suppliers. (Sirius XM’s POTUS channel, the BBC, and The Week magazine received high ratings, with a healthy dose of skepticism recommended.)
We shared stories of awkward holiday visits with families, where we felt like the Lone Ranger surrounded by rustlers. When politics came up, we were called names, branded as fools, and seriously considered sleeping in the car. With the doors locked. Then, several days later, a cousin called wanting to hear more about our view on an issue we’d talked about. Not every visit with every family, but enough to identify a trend.
We knew we sounded like gullible children. But maybe, we whispered, just maybe the worst of the antagonism and rancor is beginning to pass. Maybe the divisiveness in our nation is not an irreversible trend that will only grow worse, but is about to peak, to be followed by a counter trend. Maybe we’ll begin to listen to each other again.
We see no evidence of that in the media. We certainly don’t see evidence in our politicians. If we are to become one nation, it will have to come from the people. People not necessarily in agreement, but willing to engage and work side by side. It will have to start with the one we see in the mirror.
We closed the way all meetings should close—with pie. And because it had been a tough meeting, pie a la mode. And prayer, of course, but it was over pie that we talked about kids, and holiday plans, and reaffirmed our friendships.
Afterwards, sitting in my car, I had my own closing prayer: “Lord, I haven’t heard people engage civilly and respectfully about politics in a long time. Where did that come from? Was that You in the room, Lord?”
Who’d a thunk?