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HOW WE WALKED into This and How We Can Walk Out

In his new book, journalist Ezra Klein turns his attention to a question lingering over so many others in American politics today: Why are we polarized? And he poses a challenge in his conversation with Krista this week: “We need to build a politics where one of our aims is the participation and respect we give to each other,” he says. “That doesn’t mean a politics where the fights aren’t hard-fought or the stakes aren’t high or everything is compromised down for no reason … but we need to be looking to pull people into the process, and we need to be looking to pull people back from the ledge.”

Klein explores how polarization is built into institutions and our political systems, but it’s worth turning the same inquiry on ourselves. He offers a helpful starting point, citing a conversation he had with Arthur Brooks about the difference between anger and contempt: “Anger is an emotion that maybe can bring us closer together. When I’m angry at you, what I want to do is solve the problem. Contempt is: ‘I don’t even need to deal with you anymore; I’m just writing you off; I can’t even.’” How might this distinction allow us to more intentionally practice expressing anger, rather than contempt, in moments of polarized disagreement?

In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown calls this the work of engaged feedback. Her 10 guidelines for approaching these difficult and often critical conversations can be helpful in all sorts of conversations. For example: We’re ready to give feedback when we’re “ready to sit next to you rather than across from you” and “willing to put the problem in front of us rather than between us (or sliding it toward you).”

To be clear, nothing about this is easy. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild notes that disagreeing in this way requires a certain amount of emotional intelligence. But she encourages us to think of it as something any one of us can contribute: “We all need to be makers if you want to make a social contribution and help build a public conversation about the big issues of the day,” she says. “In order to do that, you have to really be good at emotion management. It’s a contribution to the larger whole to be really good at that.”

Or, in even fewer words: Caring, she says, is not capitulating.

Yours,
Kristin Lin
Editor, The On Being Project

P.S. — If you’re curious about Krista’s approach as an interviewer, she offers some tips to navigate big conversations in this Spotify for Podcasters interview, published this week.

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SheVille Team

We are a one-of-a-kind magazine that provides local, regional, national and international information about women’s lives and education, performing and visual arts and writing, the environment, green living and sustainability and regional Western North Carolina business, people and events. “Villages preserve culture: dress, food and dance are a few examples. As villages grow in population and turn into towns, local cafes make way for large American chains. Handmade leather sandals are discarded for a pair of Western sneakers. Due to its small size, a village fosters a tight-knit sense of community. Justpeace.org explains the meaning of the African proverb, “It takes a village,” by stating that a sense of community is critical to maintaining a healthy society. Village members hold a wealth of information regarding their heritage: they know about the ancient traditions, methods of production and the resources of the land. When villages become dispersed or exterminated in times of war, this anthropological knowledge disappears. Large cities are not as conducive to growing and producing foods such as fruits and vegetables. Villages, on the other hand, usually have ample amounts of land and other resources necessary for growing conditions.” The Importance of Villages by Catherine Capozzi Our Mission SheVille.org provides readers with information important to women’s lives and well-being. We focus primarily on the areas of education & health, business & finance, the arts & the environment. We are particularly interested in local & regional resources, organizations & events.

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