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The Courage Needed To Talk Politics And Still Be Civil

Fear and arrogance are the ingredients for ignorance and intolerance.

I’m about to touch on a topic I usually avoid—politics. Perhaps you have discovered the same thing I have. Everywhere I look, instead of seeing individuals seeking to understand differing viewpoints, I see people screaming, calling people names and cursing. These are not the tools of Courage. When someone screams and yells, it is rooted from a place of fearing differing viewpoints and thus refusing to hear them.

We all fear what we do not know. But, what if engaging in the discussion could remove the fear? My 10th grade history teacher told me, “You can’t truly consider yourself educated until you understand and can argue the issue from the other side’s point of view.” While this is great advice, few of us want to listen to the other side, let alone learn from them.

One of my proudest moments, as a father, happened just a few years ago. To my surprise, this moment occurred on social media. My son, Jake, was in college. He posted a statement concerning a political issue. In response to his comments, one of his former high school football coaches challenged his thinking. Jake’s response began, “Coach, I love and respect you. But, I disagree because….” The rest of his comment was well researched and respectfully presented. It was a joy to read through the debate. As I did, I learned something from my son.

You see, as Jake matured, his political views shifted. They were and are not always the same as mine. Yet, it is his willingness to research both sides of an argument and stand on his understanding of what is right and wrong which makes him a valuable voice in the midst of the political vitriol. We see this anger, emotion and outburst not just among celebrities, TV pundits, and politicians—but also on social media. To take it a step further, how many of us have faced it at a coffee shop or at the dinner table with colleagues, classmates, friends and family?

It takes Courage to be open and listen to the views of people with whom you may not agree. It takes Courage and Humility to be open enough to truly hear what they have to say. This does not mean we have to change our mind. It simply means we have to learn how to engage well. If we do not open our minds to the idea that the people we disagree with might have something valuable to say, then we are fighting out of our own fear and arrogance. Fear and arrogance are a dangerous foundation, since they are the ingredients for ignorance and intolerance.

Jake’s example to respectfully engage with well-documented research reminds me we need to work harder at listening to those with whom we disagree. He taught me we do not have to fear something we understand. Therefore, we need to try to understand. We will never gain understanding if we are not humble enough to believe there is a possibility we could learn something from people who think differently than we do.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • Who do you need to work hard to understand even when you don’t agree?

  • What past conversations can you re-engage in with the Courage and Humility to work to understand?


Making a shift towards taking responsibility and living with Courage is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Courage daily, which is why we have created our Habits of Character Action Guides.

The Courage Action Guide offers you a month of daily, interactive training complete with a daily reading, dig deep questions, weekly processing guides and instructions on how to use the guide both individually and with your team. The Courage Action Guide is now available here.

We are behind you, championing for you, your teams and your organizations as you become the leader you wish you had. We want to come alongside you as you grow to confidently answer “yes” to the question, “Would you follow you?”

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