Encouraging Civil Discourse On Political Issues Among Citizens

Many people encounter considerable difficulty in trying to discuss political issues with others who have different views.  This is not a new difficulty, as illustrated by the maxim to not discuss politics or religion at the dinner table or at family gatherings!  The two major sources of these problems are that (1) the discussants are not confident enough in their own worth and the truth of their opinions and hence have their sense of security easily threatened when someone disagrees or criticizes them, and (2) they go into the discussion wanting to change the other person’s mind about their views and beliefs.  The first of these difficulties must be handled by each person on his or her own, by developing healthy self-esteem, so that he/she is not thrown off balance by someone’s disagreements or criticism.  The second is finessed (and the first bypassed to some degree) by changing the focus of discussion from wanting the other person to agree with one to wanting only to understand the other person’s positions and how they make sense in the context of that person’s background and life experience.  This removes the sense of competition or “who’s right” from the discussion.  The method is to establish a comfortable atmosphere with the other person by social means, inquire about his/her background and life experience, share one’s own background and life experience and explain how one’s political views were shaped by that background and life experience, and then inquire as a matter of curiosity and interest how the other persons’ political views were shaped by his/her background and life experience.  All the while, one does not criticize or argue against but only inquires.  This, of course, may be unsatisfying if you are intent on converting others to your views by direct means, like demonstrating definitively to them that they are “wrong,” but the mutual inquiry approach will certainly lead to as much mutual understanding as is possible and to as much working together and compromising as necessary in order to find solutions that we can agree on, while our experience shows us that trying to batter people until they agree with you results instead in greater conflict and anger. You may review more detailed specific instructions for having a mutual inquiry discussion in my platform book (A Compassionate and Moderate Political Platform for 2024) or on my essays website www.livewiselydeeply.com under “government/politics/international relations.”

Everyone sees things differently because we are all unique in our genes and in our experience of life.

Talk politics to understand how someone else sees things instead of trying to change his/her mind.

Trying to get your side to win is tearing down our democracy.

We don’t need to take everyone’s guns in order to reduce mass shootings. We need to care more about our fellow citizens who feel like shooting us!

Let’s invite Russia to join NATO!






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