There are several topics in this world that tend to produce tense and often destructive conversations. Three of those topics are politics, religion, and money. Many of us were taught from an early age that those subjects are off limits. Why? Because hearing other people’s viewpoints may conflict with ours, and evoke negative feelings that have been known to destroy relationships.
It seems that two of these topics ~ politics and religion ~ have been pushed to the forefront. Many people stand firm in their convictions, and believe any other view is just wrong. Read any newspaper, scan the internet, or turn on your TV and you are bound to find stories provoking hate and intolerance for anyone who doesn’t conform to the “norm” ~ their point of view.
However sensitive discussing these key issues may be, there are times when it is crucial for us to set aside our differences and discuss them in a civilized and respectful manner.
On my most recent trip to Florida, I visited a dear friend of mine who I have known since I was 16 years old. I consider her my soul sister. We attended college together. We were both “women libers.” Above all, we always have the best time together.
As we started chatting, the typical topics came up ~ family, work, etc. I knew there would be a point where we would begin discussing politics and Israel, among other things. My friend spent about 10 minutes intensely advocating for her position. It included a lot of accusations, name-calling, aggression, and fear.
When she was done speaking, she asked me, “Doesn’t this scare you?” Keep in mind, this is someone I love dearly. I would never want to engage in a conversation that could potentially damage our decades-long friendship. So I simply said, “What I’m scared of is all of the hate I see in our world today.”
She agreed, and we moved on. My instincts pushed me to keep my response benign. However, I wish I had more tools to deal with communicating more effectively when faced with similar situations.
At some point, we are all faced with difficult conversations. We invite you to join us on Sunday, March 24th from 2pm – 5pm at the Boonshoft CJCE for From Civil Discourse to Critical Conversations.
A program of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the afternoon will help attendees learn how to conduct more civil, productive conversations on divisive issues. The workshop, led by Cherise Hairston of the Dayton Mediation Center, will lay the groundwork for future critical conversations on challenging subjects. I hope you are able to join us for this incredible event. The cost is $10. You can register by clicking here.
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