After the Election
of Donald Trump
Healing a broken democracy through friendships,
a commitment to listening, and the
creation of Listening Cafés
Nevada Neighbors Favor Different Presidential Candidates and Agreed to
Stay Friends after the Election
No Muskets. But some people were committed to hatred.
Former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh says he's "grabbing his musket" if Trump loses.
Generous souls have a much better option. Inspired by the image of God as Deep Listening, they create musket-free, listening zones featuring food, music, and storytelling.
Mutual listening creates a relationship even in the absence of common ground. Open and relational (process) theologies speak of this listening as relational power. It's the kind of power God has and we can have, too.
The key is to be committed to listening and to create "listening spaces."
I can disagree with your opinion but I can't disagree with your experience.
We are all included -- everyone of us - in the field of love.
Let's create spaces where we can listen and learn: one picnic or brunch at a time.
Healing Democracy through Listening Cafés
The key to reclaiming (or claiming for the first time) a genuine democracy is to encourage politicians and those who support them (1) to listen to those who hold divergent views, (2) to understand the experiences that underlie the anger of the opposition, and (3) to develop capacities of mind that can entertain divergent views, even as people remain committed to their principles.
The listening must be active and empathetic, tinged with a gentleness of soul. Its aim is to foster dialogue across differences and to discover common ground, where possible, so that people can work together. The listening is an end in itself, even if no common ground is found, because it establishes a relationship. There need be no common ground at the outset of the listening; the listening creates the ground.
The listening has two sides: perspective-taking and state-sharing. Perspective-taking is the act of imagining the world from the point of view of the other person and state-sharing is “feeling the feelings” of the other person. To feel the feelings of another is to understand the experiences, and sometimes the pain, that give rise to their points of view.
The need, then, is for opportunities to engage in such listening, especially among those in power. Listening sessions need to be fun as well as serious, infused with food, music, and humor, especially self-effacing humor. The performing arts have a special role to play; often we can listen to others only after we have seen their experiences “acted out” in ways that appeal to our moral imagination and empathy.
Where might these sessions occur? Let’s call them listening cafés. A listening café is a place where people share food and experiences, committed to widening their capacities for understanding people whose views differ from their own. The café can be in a single location if necessary.
But it can also move from location to location. It can be in a coffee shop one week, a church the next week, a library the next, and a mosque the next. If there are political headquarters in the town where you live, it is very important that they sponsor listening cafés, too.
A first step is to gather a group of divergent people who want to help develop and sponsor such cafés in their local community. Anybody interested? Get started.
-- Jay McDaniel