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Can we find a middle ground for conversation?

Written by Karen Fasimpaur
July 15, 2015

Yesterday, I saw this quote on Twitter posted by @dogtrax from Advice to Writers.

I read this and immediately identified with it.

Then throughout the day, it kept coming back into my mind with some nagging wonderings.

In particular, I thought of a book I recently read, very passionate and clearly designed to change minds and lives. It advocated for a social change that I deeply believe in. And yet, the book was written with rhetoric that left me thinking that no one who didn’t already espouse those beliefs would consider the points being made.

That seems to be the case with much of the discussion in society today. It is polarized and polarizing, partisan, us against them. While I appreciate passion toward positions, this kind of rhetoric doesn’t seem likely to change minds and lives. In fact, it pulls us further apart.

I see it all around me in conversations about race, immigration, equity, war, relationships. Even personally, I often find myself lacking for the words to say “You are a racist [or equivalent],” “I don’t agree with you” or “The opinion you’re expressing is not kind” without shutting down the conversation and any potential for a connection or change.

Maybe some opinions are so abhorrent as to merit this kind of response, but I wish so strongly for a middle ground that will let us at least have a conversation about these things that matter so much.

Perhaps the a starting point is to try to understand what others want, what they are, for surely we need this empathy as a foundation for building dialogue.

Is this “public relations” or “marketing”? I don’t know. (Perhaps I should disclose that I am a former marketing person who has tried to turn those skills to good for social justice.:) But I do know that we have to find some way to walk and talk together if we are going to change the world.

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