How do we break down our walls?

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 15, 2012 - 6:23 PM

It may seem that ideological barriers are insurmountable -- but there's hope.

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stephenkrizSep. 16, 12 9:09 AM

I really don't think there is any hope for the formerly United States. The Civil War really never ended. Now, instead of Blue vs. Grey it is Blue vs. Red. You also have a very well-funded right-wing propaganda machine that is poisoning the well of public opinion and churning out complete lies as fact, black as white, up as down and wrong as right. No hope. There will be more and more killing and less and less accomplshed until we simply descend into chaos. Read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for a taste of what is to come.

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rachael18Sep. 16, 1212:23 PM

This is a fabulous piece. I probably will always hold out some hope that we can have civil conversations with one another.

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shushyn78Sep. 16, 12 1:02 PM

Right-wing propaganda? The Left has made unprecedented inroads into altering the fabric of American life through its unrelenting web of deceit that has infiltrated evey bastion of American life, poisoning the minds of youth so that they wouldn't recognize life a generation or two removed. But I do have long-term hope but short-term looks pretty disturbing.

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zionistgalSep. 16, 12 3:12 PM

The author, whether realizing it or not, plays right into the dynamic she assails. The two primary stories/examples she shares are of an elderly man complaining about how the right wing speaks of Obama and of evangelical Christians, "trying to speak and act in ways that counter the worst of the reputation in civic life that evangelical Christians have acquired." First, people on the right speaking badly, then, people on the right trying to behave better. Makes it sound like all the heavy lifting needs to come from the right. Don't think so.

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MadelinemplsSep. 16, 12 3:28 PM

The best way to conquer this divide is to agree to hold to the separation of church and state that is inherent in our US Constitution, and also to agree to endeavor to not let racism and other prejudices drive our political choices, so that we can live up to the specific words in the US constitution Preamble that states: "in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...." (Direct quote includes the words capitalized.

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jdlellis1Sep. 16, 12 4:46 PM

What Ms. Sturdevent fails to acknowledge is the hypocrisy of those on the left when these things occur. Rep. Giffords shooting - Bill Maher, Michael Moore, Ed Schultz and similar others immediately pointed to "Talkk Radio" as the reason for the shooting even though the idiot had no political agenda. CNN Reporter - Cuts and pastes clips to show Mr. Romney [suppodesly] unaware of touch pad technology when in fact when the speech was played in its entirety, Mr. Romney's comments were focused on entrepreneurship. GBLT at the White House - Guests of President Obama were photographed adjacent to a portrait of former President with their middle fingers raised high. Civil discourse takes into account 360 degrees of the opportunities and issues of the day. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Nor should they ignore their political allies to do the same

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mklundSep. 16, 12 7:11 PM

I recently tried civil discourse with some of my bridge-playing friends. While they tolerated their group's opinions, they asked me not to express a different view. They would not respond to facts on deficit and debt, government expenditures, the income gap, etc. and told me my "views" were "extreme!" These are intelligent women, but they believe every propaganda email that comes into their mailboxes! No one addresses America's problems, only the "other side's" personalities and voices.

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pumiceSep. 16, 12 8:15 PM

From the article: "Yet polling has found that 'even on those most inflammatory issues, abortion and marriage, there is a moral consensus in the middle. Why not start any conversation there?'" Why not, indeed.... Gladly, Ms. Sturdevant.... Tell us what the poll sees as the moral consensus in the middle on abortion and on marriage, and let the conversation begin!

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xnloverSep. 17, 12 1:13 AM

A good analysis of the problem is Jonathan Haidt's book, "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion." The solution, he suggests, involves first, not demonizing those with whom one disagrees. [This takes a certain level of humility that is lacking among the general populace in America today, in my humble opinion, and when fear levels are raised, humility goes completely out the window.] Second, Haidt says - as do several of the responders above - we need to engender respectful conversations around the issues over which we disagree, realizing that none of us has the infallible answer and that someone with whom we disagree may actually have something to teach us. I hope the MCofC effort succeeds in producing more fruitful dialogues in Minnesota communities and that, if it does, that other communities around the country look to it as a model for doing the same in their areas. However, I am skeptical that success will be achieved on the larger scale, since money and power, the control of which are seen as the "prizes" of "winning" in our present culture, are seductive, as the scripture says, "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains" (1 Timothy 6.10, NRSV).

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jl3ziptySep. 19, 1211:54 AM

I'm a fiscal conservative, pro-small government, yet social moderate. I and many of my under-40 Republican friends/co-workers talk constantly about a time when the party can get back to more of a Rockefeller style pro-economy party. Someday, hopefully, we'll get the courage to put the social extremists out of center stage so we can be a big tent again. I know a lot of non-white entrepreneurs who are young and would be awesome in the GOP, but are so turned off by the veiled racism. Many women professionals, I know, are great leaders in business, and would be great leaders in the party. Except, they are turned off by the lax talk about rape and the views by some that employers should have say over what a woman can do with her health insurance, instead of leaving that between her doctor and herself. Finally, I know a lot of gay people who are great business professionals with families and are financially in our demographic. But they are turned off by some of the churches that want to dictate who other churches and non-religious people can marry. If my GOP can't get its head turned around to reality, our days are numbered as another pro-business yet modern stance on social issues party will usurp us.

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