What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?Mahatma Gandhi
Politics has always been a very emotional topic for the highly political. I remember local tea shops in Kerala displayed ‘Politics discussion Not Allowed’ 20 years back. Local tea shops where gossip was exchanged, opinions were created seems to be a thing of the past. Social Media has quickly overtaken the heated discussions.
An informed and involved public discourse about nation’s affairs was always considered to be sign of a healthy democracy. However, people on the left and right have become uncomfortable with the tensions created by such discussions.
The rift between left and right is now starting to affect even personal relationships in the United States. Here are a few ideas to have a healthy political discussion.
be very clear that you care about and respect the other side
Most people intuitively know that no political leader comes to help you in your personal struggles. It’s friends and families who come to help. Some of my close friends tell me It is difficult to be friends with people at the opposite side of the political spectrum. I find this very sad. Once your friends know that while you may vehemently disagree with their politics, they are loved and respected, most of the emotion goes out of the window allowing for rational discussion to take place.
We hold our own ideas with a lot of emotion. Rejection of our ideas feels almost a personal rejection. When your ideas are rejected by a friend, it hurts. Your natural instinct is to consider your friend a fool or treat him like an enemy. We are humans because we fight our natural instincts with rational thought, otherwise we are just apes.
listen to understand, do not wait for your turn to reply.
Most television debates are outright silly. My 7 year old son laughs when I watch television debates. Even he knows the participants are being stupid. Why don’t we ?
Children have curiosity. Although they won’t obey, they do listen. They don’t obey because we don’t walk our talk. Adults have lost genuine curiosity. We do not want to know why the opponent holds an almost irrational view. The big question is. Am I wrong ?
Confirmation bias is a real thing. It’s hard for us to accept ideas who conflict with our belief systems. That doesn’t mean that we are right. There is a possibility however small that we are wrong.
left and right can agree
There are just a few moral issues the right wing and left wing fundamentally disagree. Those differences are unlikely to be resolved any time soon. They are Purity, Loyalty and Authority. However, both left and right agree on values of Liberty, fairness and care.
The right wingers are generally not very open to new experiences , ideas and people unlike the left wing. As a result, they tend to be more religious, conservative and anti immigration. Changing a conservative’s view on these ideas is near futile. They will resist any changes to their own religious doctrines. They will not easily trust people from the other groups based on race, religion, nation and other such divides.
People on the right wing are likely to support a right wing government more than the left wing’s support for a left wing government.
fairness, liberty, care
Both left wing and right wing care about freedom, equality and oppose violence. This is the reason most liberal democracies are based on the values of fairness and liberty. If discussions have a common goal towards ensuring fairness, liberty and reduction of suffering, you will find a common ground.