When a conversation moves to politics or religion with someone I don’t know well, I typically offer the following: “I’m going to assume you’re just as intelligent, just as patriotic and just as spiritual as I am. If you can assume the same about me, we can talk all day.”
I’ve had a few people decline the offer. They weren’t specific as to where I was coming up short — intelligence, patriotism or spirituality — but with or without the specifics, I’m pleased to have avoided the conversation. As Mark Twain said: “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
You are welcomed here, you are encouraged to share your thoughts and experiences here. I’d like to keep the rules at a minimum but just so there’s no confusion …
- We really mean all that stuff about the other person’s intelligence, patriotism and spirituality.
- Make a genuine effort to understand the other person’s point of view.
- No anonymous postings. Be proud of what you write.
- Be honest. Be civil. Be willing to just listen sometimes.
- Admit when you’re wrong. Become better informed.
- Always be curious. Always keep learning.
- Acknowledge the other person’s worth and dignity.
- Thank the person from whose story you learned.
If we can do this — in this form and in another hundred fashions — an honest, open, respectful discussion of the subject of race is going to be original sin difficult. We can do it. I know we can. I’ll invoke the “Golden Rule” as a touchstone for our conversations. You know the words.