I have been spending a lot of time finding ways into conversations that make me explain my reasoning in different ways, particularly around prejudice.
In the filter bubble age, this is especially challenging at times. I was lucky to go to college with a number of really thoughtful conservatives who would still engage with me though I was an outspoken organizer. They were willing to listen and ask me interesting questions, and they answered my own questions with patience and respect. I reached out to them to ask them what I should be reading now so I can have an informed conversation with more conservative communities. I also started going to church again about 9 months ago so I could learn about faith and how to read/discuss the gospels. In both cases, I’ve learned to examine my decisions in different ways and explain them in new ways. I am expanding the language I have to make my cases and answer questions I didn’t know to anticipate.
But I have a real reason to hope. This talk from TEDxMidAtlantic in 2016 is one I come back to frequently, especially after really hard conversations and times where I cannot find the language to engage with new communities. Deep Canvassing is so effective that this program was written up in Science.
I know this is not accessible to everyone and we each need to do what we can to build civil society together. I recognize my privilege and how I am able to move easily between my different communities and worlds to ask hard questions that may not be accessible to others. I can be a bridge. I don’t think it’s fair to expect everyone to do this all day every day, and those that already do are some of the bravest, strongest and most creative individuals I know.
But for those who can, I encourage you to expand your vocabulary and fluency in arguing your case in different communities across the United States. It’s necessary now, more than ever.