Cultivating Courageous Curiosity
It’s two days after the elections here in Israel. And the midterms are coming up in the States next week. At every community-wide gathering I attend lately, I hear people saying “We aren’t going to talk politics, but everyone should go out and vote.” This is a standard approach we are all used to (especially when we don’t know where people stand politically.) But why? We are afraid that the arguments will get heated. We are nervous that the social or communal gathering will be ruined or become awkward. We are concerned that people will leave an encounter unable to separate a person’s politics from who they are. I want to offer a different perspective. Speaking about politics is a direct line to the inner core of a person. It helps us understand two things: 1. A person’s deeply held beliefs about their worldview and the values they care most about 2. It gives us insight into which tribe or group they most believe in and belong to Purpose and belonging are the twin building blocks that form the bedrock of our sense of meaning. Initiating, probing, and being present in conversations around politics then, is a fast track to understanding people in our wider communal circles even more. It will help us strengthen muscles like: 1. Listening with full presence 2. Asking questions that are open-ended 3. Clarifying our own emotional drives and staying curious about another’s worldview How can we cultivate courageous curiosity about each other’s political worldviews and even share our own opposing ones? When we can do that in the wider circles that we are a part of, we can open channels for dialogue which is the best antidote against fanaticism on any side. Convening civil conversations about politics, especially in our wider circles is the exercise we need to do most in order to start to build a civic culture that is worthy of us all.
With blessings on the journey,