Friday, August 20, 2010

Talking

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.

8 comments:

Sidney said...

We need more of your sentiments in the House and Senate than what we have. I'd vote for you.

BStearns said...

Wow, a great post. I agree wholeheartedly, people need to take more time to listen and actually try to work towards a beneficial outcome for everyone involved, rather than just look out for their own interests.

SQT said...

We've talked about this a little bit before but it always good to restate that this has a been a great forum for bridging certain gaps. I've gotten to "know" so many people online who do not share my politics, but we get along because we got to know each other before that discussion came up. I'm even still friends with most of those people. ;)

But we seem to be at a time right now when impasses aren't working. No one particularly likes compromise because we all want to win. But drawing lines in the sand are getting us nowhere.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'll vote for you if you give me a tax cut and leave my guns alone.

SQT said...

@Charles-- best comment yet!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Sid, I accept your vote.
BStearns, we agree.
SQT, I think dialog is critical. And yes, we are people before we are an ideological set of talking points.
Charles, You can keep your guns...and I think, I'm not sure, but your taxes are the lowest federally that they've been ever. So what I can do is agree not to raise your taxes.

Christine Purcell said...

Sternberg 2012? Could that be why people are predicting apocalypse :p

Jon said...

Dear Readers,
Warning! Some one has highjacked Stewart's blog, and very possibly Stewart himself.
I know this is so because I have known Stewart Sternberg for many years and although the thoughts in this post are entirely consistent with his true and deepest character, he would NEVER state them publicly.
Something is terribly wrong. Password theft. Subtle, subconscious hypnosis (maybe fed directly to his eyeballs through the lastest XBox game.) Maybe Glenn Beck has dognapped Bernie and is holding him in a Motel 6. Who knows?
Stewart, I would vote for you, too. But then, I would have voted for you before.