Discussing Politics with People of Opposite Convictions

By The Rev. A. Wayne Schwab

[From Member Mission Newsletter, October 2012 Romans 12:3.]

Goal: To learn and understand how other people see the same issue(s); NOT to win the other to your views.

 Guiding text: “. . . I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3).

Procedure: exchange our ways of doing so:

Here are ways that others have used – we can start by discussing them; better still, share your own ideas and experiences.

Here are some of the ways:

Before starting, have an attitude something like this:

No one has all the truth; and it’s in the interplay of opposites that a greater truth emerges than either side could come to on its own.

Even more important:

  • Be sure I know which issues I am prepared to discuss and the issues I am not prepared to discuss;
  • Somehow, practice stating my own views as clearly and briefly as I can to another – just to myself will work, if no one is available;
  • Be as well-informed as possible about the facts that support my position(s); and
  • Be as well-informed as possible about the facts that do not support my position(s).

 During the discussion:

  • Listen as carefully as I can;
  • Be ready, when the other has finished a comment to restate what the other has said to the other’s satisfaction – if asked, do it – if not asked, summarize that comment to myself;
  • Feel free to express my own views – real dialog calls for me to speak as well; be sure to state my own views – if the other has gone on for more than three minutes, ask for time to share my own views; and,
  • After, stating my view(s), ask for the other’s views.

Continue as long as the interest of both of us lasts; quit when one of us begins to tire of the exchange.

[The Rev. A. Wayne Schwab, Director of Member Mission Network, Inc., President of Member Mission Press, Member of the Spiritual Formation Committee for the United Church of Hinesburg, VT, Author, Speaker, and Workshop Leader. ]