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Q & A on A Beautiful Day

In Kindergarten we learned to politely raise our hands to ask a question. We couldn’t yell out every thought, swear at other students, call each other names, shout “Shut Up!” or intimidate one another on the playground.

"Kinder" actually means children in German, but maybe it's also a good reminder to be kinder. I wonder if we could try being kinder and listening and learning for greater understanding. Especially for the sake of our country.

I'm certain most Americans hope that America’s future means peace with foreign countries, a balanced budget, safer communities, and affordable health care among a plethora of other important issues. We may differ on how to achieve these goals, but the more time spent shooting at one another delays establishing common ground and working at achieving solutions.

While watching the movie "A Beautiful Day," I was struck by Mr. Rogers’ ability to look right at someone and ask a question. He intuitively searched the heart to find out why someone hurt. I would love to be able to do the same. Maybe that means less debate (an argument with a winner), and more discussion (talking about something in detail and considering different ideas and opinions). And considering the header on the poster, "We Could All Use a Little Kindness" might mean both parties need a higher level of safety and comfort in conversation.

One episode of the television series All in the Family has stuck with me over the years. In “Two’s A Crowd” Archie Bunker, a bigoted racist, and his liberal son-in-law Michael are locked in a basement during which they finally have an honest and personal discussion about their relationship and their lives. They didn’t silence their feelings, they talked freely.

Archie begins with, “It’ll take me until the end of time to straighten you out,” but goes on to share his own family history to which Michael asks the question, “Did you ever possibly stop to think that your father could be wrong?”

Archie’s answer is a question that silences Michael. “You’re supposed to love your father because your father loves you. And how could any man that loves you tell you anything that’s wrong?” Archie’s question is never answered. The two fail to change each other’s minds. But they gain an understanding, greater respect and establish a common bond.

What if we did the same and asked questions instead of firing rhetorical stun guns or spewing opinions into the chaos? That kind of angry noise intends to intimidate or incite opponents instead of promoting intelligent dialogue. Could you respond to questions like these?

  • When did you come to those beliefs?

  • How did you arrive at those conclusions?

  • What do you see on either side of the argument that is important?

  • How do we continue to preserve our constitution?

  • How do we recover politically if this event happens?

  • How do we recover politically if this event doesn’t happen?

  • In what way have these political decisions personally affected you?

  • Do you think if someone believes differently than you, that means they hate you?

  • If someone believes differently, how does it affect you?

  • If you sat down with (controversial figure_____) what would you ask her?

If two people of diverse opinion could ask questions, maybe we could all learn from the discussion and come to the realization that people CAN hold differing opinions and still work together toward a solution. No name calling necessary. We will probably not change anyone’s mind, but two heads might be better than one in coming up with answers to the questions.

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