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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?