To Understand and be Understood

These five practices for moving beyond the polarization which currently dominates our public discourse are adapted from Charles C. Camosy, assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University in New York City:

1. Humility.

-We might be wrong
-Acknowledge that our views are ours, not Truth itself.
-We seek understanding and are willing to change our mind if convinced.

2. Treat your conversation partner as a full-fledged human being.

-They are human beings, God’s beloved creatures, well worth knowing in their own right.
-Never presume to know what someone thinks or what motivates them because of their gender, race, level of privilege, sexual orientation, or social location.
-Listen to learn rather than critique (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”)

3. Avoiding binary thinking.

-Genuine issues are almost always too complex to fit into simplistic categories like liberal/conservative, religious/secular, open/close-minded, pro-life/pro-choice, etc.
-Binary thinking creates “sides”, my side and the wrong side, which hinders or shuts off serious and open engagement.
-Learn to accept or embrace ambiguity

4. Don’t use labels.

-Words like radical feminist, feminazi, war on women, neocon, limousine liberal, prude, heretic, tree-hugger, anti-science, anti-life, and so on.
-Try to use language that engages, alffirms, and draws the other into a fruitful engage of ideas.

5. Lead with what you are for.

-this makes a convincing, positive case for your view you.
-In practice leading with what we are for often reveals that we are actually after very similar things and simply need to be able to talk in an open and coherent way about the best plan for getting there.


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