I voted today and much weighed on my mind as I casted my ballot. Every vote counts. Every vote is (hopefully) a reflection of an individuals’ thoughtful conclusion on who will best serve our country. I pledge to discuss my opinions with CIVILITY. I am not right. You are not wrong. Leave room for doubt + discourse. Can’t we all agree that the majority of us are neither RED nor BLUE, but varying shades of PURPLE?
I was so engrossed recently in an On Being podcast that I missed an exit, crossed over a mountain and only when the podcast was finished did I realize my mistake. The podcast was part of Krista Tippett’s Civil Conversations Project. I have included some of the transcript below.
Ms.Tippett: You wrote on your website in your blog about the relationship between civility and doubt. I’d love for you to say some more about that.
Mr. Blankenhorn: It’s funny that you would ask that. It’s the thing I’ve been thinking about most in the last several months, more than any other topic. And I think that doubt and civility are friends. They go together kind of like, you know, coffee and cream. They’re partners. Um, by civility, I mean treating the other person the way you would want them to treat you. And by doubt, I mean believing that you may not be right even when your position is passionately held.
I don’t know why it is, but I think we’re just at this moment in time where the public conversation is at a particularly low level of quality — the coarseness, the ugliness, the assumption of bad faith, the triviality, the sensationalism. I really think that so many people are aware of this. And I know it sounds small-bore, but I do think that these kind of conversations where you try to dig a little bit deeper and to try to be more serious, it just in these small ways you have a little affirming flame of something positive, a kind of modeling process.
I don’t know that there’s a macro solution right now because I don’t quite know where it comes from. I don’t know where the ugliness at the macro — I can’t diagnose it, really. I don’t have a diagnosis. So all I really know is it’s terrible, it’s bad for the country, it’s bad for our souls. And the only thing I can think of is just modeling it on a small scale wherever you can a different way of talking to one another.
You know, I’ve been wanting us to push deeper on civility because it seems to me that there are at least three levels. One level is be nice, just be polite. Another level is to admit that there may be something you don’t know. And then a third level, and this is the hardest: try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to actually see the world empathetically the way that the other person is seeing it. Sincerely make that effort.
(The only purple photo I had in my album was of eggplant. I guess my purple is aubergine.)