As a young anti-gun supporter was feeling isolated among his friends in a pro-gun state of South Dakota, he visited me to hear my encouragement. While I was relating to him who supported his stance in this conservative town, my housemate came home. He immediately began to yell, “We need guns! We need marshals!” The young man and I hushed our conversation while the housemate was getting ready to go to gym. When he left, we uttered, “South Dakota is backward because of people like him.”
There was no dialog in the account, and it only deepened the gap between “them” and “us.” I assumed that my housemate was not going to listen to us. We had no respect in his opinions, either.
It is easier to shut “the other” out. However, in order to reach a middle ground between two opponents, we need to exchange dialogues. In the future, if I encounter a situation like the above, I shall respond and listen to “the other” openly with the willingness to change my opinions if he/she convinces me so.
On Being, Krista Tippett asked her guest speakers, “What is it in your own position that gives you trouble? What is it in the position of the other’s that you are attracted to?” I will keep the insightful questions in my mind.