The endless march of the news often makes me feel that communities are splintering and that our politics can only drive us further and further apart. In the darkest moments, I wonder if we are all now unreachable by the power of conversation, the very thing that has made the grand experiments of our kind possible.
That's why I was so moved by this TED talk by Megan Phelps-Roper, who grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church and then later left. She recounts with kindness what made her leave behind the extremism of her former church, which, of course, could only be one thing: conversation.
She shares four steps that can help us engage in real conversation:
1) Don't assume bad intent.
2) Ask questions.
3) Stay calm.
3) Make the argument.
She notes, "the good news is that it's simple, and the bad news is that it's hard." Her vulnerability, willingness to change, and simple advice gives us a model as we do the hard work of engaging with each other. Let's talk.