You'll be surprised at what happens when you get out of your insulated social media bubbles, and make an effort to really listen to, and connect with people as human beings. It turns out that most people have basically the same emotional fears and needs. Even people we have political disagreements with. The difference is that, for the most part, political opponents are viewing what's right through different moral frames (read my previous posts about the two moral frames). After all, politics is fundamentally a moral debate about what is the best course of public policy for the most people. No one advocates for a policy because they think it's the wrong thing to do that will harm people - everyone believes THEIR policy is the right think to do.
There was a time when the only way to have a political discussion was in person, face-to-face. Before the days of Facebook and Twitter, people who lived together in the same community had to have these political discussions in person. Typically, when you are talking to someone in person, you have an unconscious connection - immediately. This makes it much harder to view and treat this person inhumanely. Talking with someone, in person, helps better foster the connections necessary to treat someone with respect, empathy, and find common ground.
Social media has taken that away. Facebook and Twitter create and encourage an environment where it's too easy to experience the world through a very narrow lens. And too often that lens focuses on dehumanizing, ridiculing, and debasing those with whom we disagree. It has contributed to toxic partisanship, and feeds the fires of hate. Healing our nation, society, and political culture means that we need to start taking risks - and actually start having real conversations with people we disagree with. In a very real sense, our future depends on it.
That's why I found the work of Ozlem Cekic so inspiring. The first female and Muslim member of the Danish Parliament, she has been the subject of a great deal of hatred. What did she do? She started meeting people who sent her hate-filled emails for coffee, and actually made connections with them. She actually found that they were good people, and she had a lot in common with them at a very basic level - hopes, dreams, and fears.
Ozlem Cekic is great role model, and inspiration for how we can create a better future!