Civil Discourse

Changing How Our World Communicates

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."

The United States was founded upon the values of freedom and independence. But in a population of over 330 million people, we’ve lost the ability to let each individual experience those values. We’ve been falsely led to believe that there is a finite supply of them, and therefore someone else having freedom and independence means there is less for ourselves.

In a nation where our first amendment is the freedom of speech, we must consider if we are actively upholding this with our actions, words, and responses. Do we allow another opinion to exist, even when it is so contrarian to our own? Or must we shut down that other person, talk over them, and consume all the space so as to never hear what they have to say?

When did a difference in politics, religion, or philosophy become causable grounds for the death of a relationship?

In today’s age of black and white, the gray space of nuances seems to be quickly disappearing. The places where healthy debate and civil discourse are the standard disappear with each televised candidate debate and social media callout. But we forget that on the other side of the podium or screen is simply another human being – with their own right to freedom, to independence, and to speak freely. 

In that forgetting, we lose our ability to engage in productive, real communication that will move us forward. Instead, we choose the easier route. We choose to bury our heads in the sand, but not just anywhere. We find the sand where we are surrounded only by those who hold the exact same ideals and opinions as us. There is no need for difficult conversations there because we assume everyone agrees with us on every single topic. And when we finally pull our heads back out of the sand, we look around expecting to see other people, but we’re shocked to find ourselves all alone. We incorrectly assume that everyone has left us.

But really there was no one else all along.

Because for all the 330 million people in this country, we will not find one individual with whom we agree about everything. Conflict amongst ourselves is not only expected, but should be celebrated. That is why we uphold and fight for freedom and independence – not just for ourselves but for all. When we have the skills to really listen to someone else, understand what they mean, and articulate back how we see the situation differently, that is when we have lived into our country’s values. 

And it doesn’t stop in the political sphere, as we see the effects of what communication, good or bad, does to an organization, a friendship, or a family. We crumble when we resort to cultures where one voice is valued more than all the rest. The brilliant ideas that create change, innovation, and growth get squashed underneath someone else’s ego and selfishness. Until yet again, we’re left alone with only our opinions, our need to be right, and an overall intolerance of anyone else.

Within each of us is the power to engage with or destroy the human being across from us.

Every conversation is an opportunity to use our skills of communication and return to a nation of healthy debate and civil discourse. In doing so we give to others the values of freedom and independence, creating evermore opportunities for us to experience them as well. Because what a shame it would be to withdraw from all those around us, missing out on what it means to be part of a community, country, and ultimately a human being.

Invite Someone Else To Begin Their Pursuit:

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