A theme I’ve returned to on several occasions is the fact that although the Mad Dog and I disagree about a whole boatload of very important, foundational things, we’re best friends and love each other very much. Likewise, when my folks were murdered, even people I hadn’t seen as friends — hell, people I didn’t even know — showed love and aid for my family and me. Finally, it always amuses me when people tell me that “I like your blog. I don’t always agree with what you say, though.” I always tell them there’s no reason they should.
Because our society is as polarized as it is (although my first encounter with this use of polarization dates back to a 1974 Dave Berg piece in MAD, so it’s not like this is a new thing), folks get caught up in their allegiances to Team Red or Team Blue, and it’s too easy to forget that those guys on the other team are people you might like in many ways, and that you simply disagree about stuff that wouldn’t matter, were it not for politicizing the personal or vice versa.
It’s because of this that I find some interest in the work of a fellow named Parker J. Palmer. The NYT reports that he’s operating a program meant to break people out of polarized discourse structures and allow them to engage in genuine dialogue with folks on the other team. An example of what he has to say:
We can talk across lines by talking about what we love, because a lot of us love the same things: our kids and grandkids, our country, the natural world, the idea that people should be able to get ahead in life. Then we can talk about our doubts, because we all doubt that what we love is being served well. Beginning a conversation with loves and doubts rather than political ideologies opens a new door to dialogue, driven by story-telling rather than political point scoring.
Sadly, one might argue that figures who have represented themselves as “post-partisan”, pragamatists, or beyond ideology in recent years have operated under false flags, but because of my love for the Mad Dog, and for a lot of other people with whom I profoundly disagree (and who I know love me anyway, as well), I’m happy to see this activity, and I wish him luck.
A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to colleague and friend Marilyn Dallman Seymour, via Facebook.