In the last week I've been giving a good deal of thought regarding how people present themselves to one another. Without disclosing my own politics, I've communicated with several people from the other side, listening, debating, and in the end making a point of asking: "Would you vote for me?" And I was surprised each time by a "yes."
When I asked why, the people all responded that while they disagreed with many of my ideas, they thought I listened to what they had to say and would lead in a fair manner, making decisions based on ideas based on merit and not on my ideology.
I mention this because it reinforces the idea that we need dialog. We need to sit down with one another and not blast away at differences, but rather begin by finding commonalities and use that as a foundation for consensus. We must abandon our talking points, challenge our sources, and make a convincing argument from the left or the right by offering step-by-step solutions.
Don't get me wrong, I've been a political activist. I've shouted out my views, attacked my critics, and displayed my anger in t-shirts and on bumper stickers. And yet, I will bet you not one person from the other side ever looked at me, smacked his forehead and said, "You know, he's right. Gosh." Instead, all I've done is further alienate the people I should have been talking to.
People say, "We can't change society." We can, but it begins with one-on-one discussion and the change ripples slowly through the fabric of society.
This week in Royal Oak the Dream Cruise will see numerous folk from left and right trying to politicize the event. I'm not sure what gun control, abortion, gay rights, or climate change have to do with automobiles (okay, maybe climate change), but it's not the right venue and no one will be converted. People will stand toe-to-toe and the divide will deepen.
Me? I'll keep talking to people. One at a time. I'll try and control myself and not be stupid ( that's an enormous challenge for someone who enjoys drama and confrontation). Where conversation is pointless, where ideology refuses to yield to discussion, I will not engage, but give that person his or her time to find their own way.
It's not right or left, it's about people. We communicate (and that means listen as well as speak), or we surrender to the most base part of our natures.