Right now in America we are getting a lesson in what happens when we do not talk to each other. I am guilty. I live in a bubble of my own making, but I knew I lived in it. I couldn’t help but know because I lived wholly within Trumplandia. I live where people proudly wave the Confederate flag and if you scratch the surface a little bit you will find more than a few card-carrying KKK members.
This is part of larger problem–folks minimize or oversimplify. For example in a recent post for Virtually Connecting, Chris Gilliard argued that we need to invite more students to speak with their own voices if we want “a glimmer of hope in a time of chaos”. Gilliard makes it seem so simple. It is not. Embracing voice without understanding how much work it entails on many sides…well, people are not going to listen and without listening no one will change.
Some people do not shy away from demonstrating how hard real change is. For example, Daryl Davis. Daryl was just highlighted in a recent two-part series on the podcast Love + Radio. I listened, slack-jawed by the incredible story of how one black man decided to find out the answer to a simple question: how can someone hate me if they don’t really know me?
I listened to both of these on my commute home on Friday. Ever since, I have been wondering how I can make similar changes in my own political life. My question is this: how can I understand someone who supported and voted for Trump?
I would love it if you listened to these two podcasts. They are full of credible, heart-filled stories and hard-earned truths about human nature. And part two of the series is a how-to lesson in having conversations with people who are very different than you are. These are life changing. I feel them worming their way deep into how I think about folks who are different than I am. I am working on keeping my sense of disbelief open longer and asking questions that are really questions and not necessarily arguments.
I think that the way I will be able to do this is to take George Lakoff to heart and reframe the discussion from Argument to Conversation or perhaps Dance. Lakoff insists that humans are metaphoric creatures and that metaphor is at the core of how our brains structure experience. I would love to begin to have ‘dances’ with Trump folk. I would love to have that metaphor structure the conversation that would get closer to helping me understand why folks acted the way they did in the last election cycle. These are the questions that the Democratic National Committee should be encouraging, but they are not. Sad day for us all. So I have to do that myself and you do, too.
In a recent press conference a reporter working for a one-man news service, Kyle Mazza’s UNF News, asked Donald Trump a question about his wife opening up the White House Visitor’s Office. Most reporters would call that a softball question, but I think of it as the downbeat of a dance rhythm- and one and two, shall we dance? If reporters want to seize the metaphorical high ground, they have to stop buying into the dance Trumps is dancing–the media is a threat to democracy. According to Lakoff they can’t just say #nottheenemy. That only reactivates the ‘argument is war’ frame Trump is blaring. Instead reporters have to take a look at people like Mazza and start dancing to the tune of #protectthetruth. Bring the music, bring the dance.
Sunday Morning Music:
Covering a tune is a classic example of dancing with a different partner. How about Elton John and the bluegrass band Iron Horse?