Wed Mar 19: Around the UU World

Brown Bag Lunch
Wed Mar 19 -- noon (and third Wed of every month)
Fireside Area of Sanctuary

We'll discuss an article from the Winter 2013 issue, "Political Empathy."

To read the article online, CLICK HERE.

Demonizing your political opponents doesn't change anyone's mind, but empathy can.

Discussion Points

1. Doug Muder writes, "But every time two friends find a way to communicate respectfully about their political differences, it is their own accomplishment, an undoing of the habits of conflict taught by the national voices each of them listens to and admires." What "national voices" do you listen to and admire? In what ways would have to undo "the habits of conflict taught by" the voices you admire in order to more respectfully communicate across political difference?

2. Muder says that when his own political opinions changed, it was "not because I lost arguments, but because I gained experience and grew in empathy....I didn’t change because someone beat down my defenses. The world was already changing without me, and somebody made a space for me to get on board." In what ways have your political opinions changed over the years? What caused the change?

3. Muder describes George Parker, the 50s-style stereotypical father in Pleasantville. Parker comes home one day to find that his dinner is not ready and waiting for him. "Where's my dinner?" Parker wonders. Muder writes: "If only someone could sit down with him, appreciate the discomfort of lacking dinner, and patiently explain all this" (i.e. the changing world and his options in it.) Is patient explanation what our political opponents need? Consider, for example, Mark Twain's "The War Prayer." (CLICK HERE.)The "stranger" in this tale has done "patient explaining," yet the result, as the last line of the story tells us, is that: "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." So what, if any, good can we expect from patient explanation?

4. Muder's final sentence refers to his friend, Jeff, whom he had known since grade school: "If I had more tools and more confidence in them, maybe Jeff and I could just talk freely and see what came up. 'Why the tea party?' I might ask, hoping (rather than dreading) that the conversation might go somewhere that surprised me." How would you assess "Why the tea party?" as a possible conversation starter?

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