How do I make room for those who don’t see things the “enlightened” way I do? American professor Jonathan Haidt focused this question the beautifully the other day comparing two groups we’ll all recognize – however we might feel about them. On the one hand are those for whom John Lennon’s Imagine is an anthem. We love the open borders with no countries or possessions, and no religion too.
On the other are those for whom borders protect the most deeply held values. Here we’re afraid that Lennon’s borderless world – with unrestricted immigration for example – however airy-fairy and nice it sounds – would destroy what we love and have built our lives around. We think that those who can’t see this aren’t taking care of the foundation.
And the world seems to only offer us these two polar opposites. The two are the stuff of the “daily news” as immigration struggles are waged in borders all around the world. Those struggles affect us either a little or a lot, depending on where we live.
Can our conversational “we-spaces,” open conversations that Lennon might have felt at home in, make room for this complexity? Can we make room for the other, whoever they turn out to be. Especially when they’re the people we really wish they weren’t.
These questions aren’t abstract: they’re present in “we-spaces” and open dialogues we have around the evolutionary future. They’re present because they’re present in our world.
It’s so tempting, and so easy, to select a single pole and cling to it, resisting the other. Thank god for those brave and vulnerable souls who are willing to wade in and risk lovingly telling it like it really is!