Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Reaching Across the Aisle

Last week I attended an event on civil discourse that was sponsored by the North Country San Diego League of Women Voters.

In big bold letters, they challenged all participants to engage in a dialogue in which each individual has a right to speak and to be heard.

Such dialogue being characterized by:

* respectful participation
* sharing the time equitably
* attentive listening
* balanced discussion

A healthy reminder, as we approach the November election, to behave.

Have an opinion, support a candidate and voice your thoughts.

But be civil.

During the event, we were shown a film called Patriocracy, which explores the extreme polarization in America.

Pointing out, in sound bite after sound bite, how ridiculous adults can seem when they are vehemently spewing their opinions, getting louder and louder, drowning out logic and reason and good manners.

It was often funny.

In the way that is really more sad than funny, when you think about it.

The guest speaker, a retired Congressman, shared some anecdotes about his time in Washington and the one that resonated with me had to do with the division that starts inside Congress.

He asked if any of us had toured the U.S. Capitol.

Although I have heard the phrase 'reaching across the aisle' many times as it relates to politicians and compromise and bipartisanship, I didn't think about the phrase at face value.

The Congressman explained the division.

The Democrats sit on one side. The Republicans sit on the other. If you need to hang up your jacket in the cloak room, it is not one space for all. It is on one side or the other. Same for leaving the chambers to get a bowl of soup or whatever.

I found this fascinating.

Because shared space.

Shared experiences.

Even those small, simple ones make us 'see' each other.

Let's try to do that in the run up to the election, just 'see' each other and try our hardest to be civil.


  1. Shared space, shared experiences. Listening outside of our comfort-zone. Seeking first to understand.

    We honor each other with this first gift.

    Thank you for making this so tangible.