Earlier this year I was at a business event, and the main speaker was a local congressman. As this man generally does, he made plenty of cracks about people “the other party” during his talk, assuming everyone in the room was on the same page as him.
They were not.
Granted, probably 2/3 of the room laughed along with him, but there were quite a few people that left with a bad taste in their mouth. I was reminded of this while reading “I Never Thought of It That Way“, where the author shared a similar experience.
And the assumption that everyone here is a political blue—it makes us forget who we are. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it now: A local leader welcomes everyone to an event, then cracks a joke that demeans conservatives to a burst of nods and laughter, and I cringe in my seat. It lets off steam and bonds anxious blues together. I get that. But it also chips away at three things I love about my city: its openness, its thoughtfulness, and its compassion. We’re too smart to forget that there are other, valid perspectives out there that we can barely understand, I’ll sit there and think. Aren’t we?
As with her, I like to think that people in our city are open, thoughtful, and compassionate, but that’s clearly not always the case.
Whenever I walk into a room, I hope to find people from both sides of the political aisle. The more that a room is slanted toward one side or the other, the more quickly conversations (including prepared notes from a presenter) can get ugly.
Unless you’re in a meeting that is specifically for a particular party or politician, assume that a mixed group is present, be respectful of it, and embrace the good things that it can create.
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