A Conversation I Wanted to Have

I saw two videos on YouTube and listened to Krista Tippet's On Being this past weekend. They were about listening to the "other" and having conversations with people we don't agree with. These are about what we can learn from the "other" yet clearly saying I don't agree while giving the other person the space to think and change his/her mind. These are the links: 

Being under cover in the alt-right: here
Making friends with a Klan member: here
On Being: here The title of this episode is "How Friendship and Quiet Conversations Transformed a White Nationalist"

Often people fear the other because they don't know the "other." I am surprised when someone I know makes statements about the "other" that, thinking about the statement makes no sense or has no basis in fact. Unfortunately, according to some research my sister told me about, providing facts to a "true believer" contrary to his or her belief system can, ironically, make that person more of a true believer.

Watching the videos and listening to the On Being program reminded me of a conversation I had with someone I've known for sometime. In fact, I don't really know how long I've known her. I've also known for sometime that we are rather diametrically opposed politically/philosophically. I can't figure out how, as a woman she can be a Trump supporter. From my point of view the white supremacist movement is also a patriarchal movement. 

I haven't tried to have a conversation with her let alone the probably multiple conversations that it would take to get to the heart of where her belief system is coming from. Most likely fear is what is at the heart of her beliefs is my guess, but I don't know. I did try to start a conversation with her on Facebook one time about something she said to me at an event we were both working. It was in relation to a venue that someone we know would have events. It's a Unitarian Universalist Church and had a sign supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. She, apparently, wasn't happy that the events were there because she didn't support gangs.

I was stunned, probably said something like "oh" and walked away. I didn't think it was an appropriate time to try to talk to her about this. I did send her a Facebook message saying that it was good to see her, that I was curious where she got her information about BLM as everything I had read said that it was about protesting violence against black people and not about supporting gangs. She responded that it was good to see me, but did not respond to my question. I didn't follow up on the question.

Could I have continued this conversation through Facebook? Should I have? I have not seen her since as we only see each other at events. But, I do feel that I've missed an opportunity to listen to her to see what drives her beliefs in this direction, and maybe if I was lucky, help to open her up to a different point of view. 

The photographs are by Alexis Brown, Joshua K. Joshua and Gradika. I found all of them on unsplash.com.

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