I Wish Everyone Could See This - Livin' the Good Life
Jun. 4th, 2012
08:46 am - I Wish Everyone Could See This
I don't often watch a movie more than once. If I want to see something a second time, I must really, really like it. I saw a show the other night on PBS that was so good that I watched it two more times! It's an interview with Bill Moyer and Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist. I tried to figure out how to post it here, but failed. (It can easily be watched, though, if you google "Bill Moyer" "Jonathan Haidt" and "PBS interview".)
The title of the interview is, "How do conservatives and liberals see the world?" This conversation fascinated me! Jonathan says he started out as a liberal when he began his research project and ended up a centrist. In a nutshell, he says that we can never have political or religious harmony in this country until we view people with opposing views as just that. People with opposing views, not evil people. When we segregate ourselves exclusively into like-minded groups, he says, we become unable to reach across the aisle and see what might be good about another person or their view. On the other hand, when we have an aunt or a son or a co-worker who have different beliefs, and we love them dearly, we cannot totally dismiss them. When you have personal relationships with people of other faiths, it's much more compelling to try and understand them and be willing to see from their standpoint. We are more apt to actually be able to say, "I can see why you think that way." It is not compromising your beliefs or values to say that. But, when we get all our political ideas and "facts" from strangers, people we don't know on the Internet or TV, it's easy to demonize a whole group of people. Rather than, "I disagree with my neighbor, Kathy", it becomes "All liberals (or conservatives) are evil". This is a huge leap in a direction with no way out, and it has gotten our country in serious trouble, he says.
I love this guy's way of thinking. He is extremely compassionate towards both sides, which is a breath of fresh air in today's polarized political climate.
I have my own experiences that resonate with the points Jonathan makes. Being married to a musician, I am more likely than most to rub elbows with liberal-leaning folks. Sometimes I am surprised by the fact that someone I've known for a while and come to really like and enjoy is gay. Because I know them and like them, I tend to feel sympathetic towards them and open to seeing life through their eyes. No way could I see a gay person as evil now, simply because of their "gayness". No way could I feel superior to them... that I'm right and they are wrong. And that is because I love them and feel respect for them as human beings and fellow travelers in life. Another example of this idea is that I just found out that a member of our band is a Mormon! After years of working with him and becoming quite fond of him, I find out that he has very different religious and political beliefs than me. And yet, we have been working harmoniously together for years! How can that be? It's because we have humanized our relationship. We are not our politics or religion. We are people who have, and do, things in common. By the way, learning this about him only increased my respect and appreciation for the Mormon religion. He never once, obviously, tried to convert me to his way of thinking. This just makes me feel curious and open to finding out about his beliefs. We have both been reaching across the aisle all this time and didn't even know it.
There was a time, not long ago, when candidates running for president referred to each other as, "My Worthy Opponant". But, no longer. When a person is demonized, he is no longer "worthy" in his opponant's eyes. This is the crux of the problem, as Jonathan sees it. And, now, me too.