Do we want to be right, or do we want to get along with others? What are the key ingredients for conversation about difficult topics?
In Trump’s America, traditional ideas about cross-cultural and interfaith engagement have become more urgent. The Muslim ban, immigration “reform,” racism, Islamophobia, and rampant mysogny have caused many activists and peacemakers to refocus their energies and reconsider the goals of eduation and dialogue.
In this conversation with interfaith activist Kendra Fredrickson-Laouini, we explore the limits of dialogue. Must we remain in conversation when we’re unsafe? What about hate speech? Are there limits to compassion and understanding?
Ways to listen to this episode:
In this episode, we discuss:
- How to engage in difficult conversations on social media
- How comfort can block real dialogue
- The work of repairing ruptures in civic discourse
- When to prioritize safety over continued engagement
- Goals and strategies for being an ally in contentious times
Top 3 takeaways from this week’s episode:
1. “I don’t want to be the one who built the wall.”
When we look back at history, we always want to be on the side of the angels. Everyone imagines she would have marched with MLK, or fought against Nazis. And yet, we have opportunities every day to work for justice and inclusion. What opportunities are we missing?‘I don’t want to be the one who built the wall.’ Listen now: Click To Tweet
2. “We might want to win that argument, but when we see each other—a human face—it has to change us.”
Part of dialogue is a willingness to be changed, but too many of us want others to change while we get to keep our own beliefs and practices. Relationships with others can help us maintain a posture of openness. Why do we tend to have relationships with only those who agree with us? Is there something we can do to fix this?‘We might want to win that argument, but when we see each other—a human face—it has to change us.’ Listen now: Click To Tweet
3. “We have to open our eyes. We can’t disengage.”
Fear, disruption, and civil discord are overwhelming. The media too often stirs up feelings of danger, even though we’re actually safer than we’ve ever been. Paralysis can keep us from collaborating effectively. What practices can we use to keep us engaged in important social justice work?‘We have to open our eyes. We can't disengage.’ Listen now: Click To Tweet
Mentioned on the episode:
When we think about the necessary work of engaging and educating others, it can feel scary to approach those who disagree with us. Kendra mentioned a tool many activists use to think about the work of reaching out: those closest to use are our natural allies, those farthest away may be a threat to us, but there are groups in between who can be reached. Below is an infographic of the tool Kendra mentioned in the episode of how to reach out thoughtfully.
More resources include:
- True Story Blog
- Executive Order 13769
- Trump’s executive order: Who does travel ban affect?
- Muslim Ban 3.0 Is Heading to Court — Here’s What You Need to Know Right Now
- Articles on the Muslim Ban by Color Lines
- Why Sally Yates Stood Up to Trump
- Why Trump Had to Fire Sally Yates
- 3 Examples of Using Social Media to Support Dialogue Activities
- Dialogue Across Difference: A Guide to Social Media
- “Can We Just Stop Talking About Race?”
- Only Education Dismantles Hate
How to connect with Kendra and with us:
You can find Kendra on Twitter here: @KFredLaouini.
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About the Podcast
In Times Like These explores the difficult spaces we humans navigate in culture and religion, in dialogue and doubt. We talk to voices from the field, in law, activism, civil rights, and from places of struggle and places of deep learning. In Times Like These, we unpack the most troubling issues of politics and faith we face, together.
In Times Like These is hosted by Dr. Stephanie Varnon-Hughes and is a CLU Live production by Claremont Lincoln University.