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Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Little Social Experiment Or Was It Lord of the Flies?






Recently I participated in a social experiment on Facebook. Could a group of conservatives interact with a group of liberals long enough to understand why they believe the way they do?

We managed to prove that if we were all in a lifeboat we might have rowed in the same direction but if the G20 Summit had come up someone might have received an oar to the head.

This morning I woke up with such a headache.

Here is my takeaway of almost a week of spirited debate.

1.) It's too hot for spirited debate, I tried to give it my "all", but I get to "all" a little faster than most. I wasn't nearly as understanding as I thought I would be.
2.) The people who were willing to find common ground, even though they still respectfully disagreed, engendered trust. When they brought up points I had not been exposed to I listened.
3.) When I debated (argued) with the sole purpose of being right I felt terrible. Because that was not the purpose...to just be right, it was to learn about each other and discern why we believe the way we do. When we strayed from that purpose and just became partisan we were war like. Sometimes even eating our own.
4.) I met some intriguing and intelligent people. Over and over it makes every difference when we take the time to get to know each other. One person I found particularly intriguing had a serious heart event similar to mine. I was able to confide in him over some issues I have been dealing with about my heart and he gave me some great advice.
5.) We believe our bias and find news to prop up that bias, but sometimes we are wrong. The people willing to accept they could be wrong (and what cost is that anyway, is there a cosmic scorecard?) were the ones I learned the most from. The ones who simply considered themselves right and their side blameless for negative discord I ignore.

As some of you know I survived a very large heart event 7 months ago. I have to wonder what I was saved for.  Certainly not to bring contention, so I am tempted to back away. Or do I stay and concentrate on honest civil discourse? Is it even possible?

I know it is a gamble to discuss religion or politics and I wholeheartedly agree with that in a social setting. But can it be possible to interact civility in a designated forum without it turning into a food fight? Can you weigh out important issues when everyone in your circle looks and thinks just like you? Do you know someone without insurance? Or terrible insurance? Deductibles too high? Do you know someone hurt by Obamacare? Do you know someone hurt by taxes or strident regulations? Do you know someone helped by taxes? Do you know anyone in the military? On Welfare? Trying to manage care at a veterans hospital without luck? With luck? Do you know a woman unable to find care?

Getting outside our circle is imperative. I believe it is one of the reasons our government is so unresponsive to us. Our elected officials are clueless to our basic needs because they have iron clad pensions, health care and privilege. Go down the list of civil servants and see how many have been in government their whole lives yet are millionaires. Little is more important to them than fund raising as the process of election is incredibly expensive. Of course they are more responsive to money over constituents.

Here are my top 4 ways to survive the current political atmosphere.

1.) No click bait in fact I will not pass along articles at all as most are partisan.  I will be impeccable in my word and I won't manipulate facts to support my opinion. I will venture into conversational places I am timid to travel for balance and understanding.
2.) I will not root for someone to be wrong just so I can be right.....I won't be rigid without trying to see another persons point of view. and I won't take anything personally.
3.) I won't assume what someone is thinking...I will respectfully ask questions.
4.) I will do my best to continue a civil conversation, to see the good in others and stop labeling people for their beliefs. I will be respectful at all times.

If this reads like the 4 agreements then you spotted my artistic license with a way of thinking I find brilliant.

Maybe we can keep going with our social experiment, maybe we won't. But whatever happens I learned a lot about myself and which people I really listen to.

19 comments:

  1. Bravo! Sharing. Bless your heart.

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    1. Thank you my friend...I am just following you through life

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  2. don Miguel Ruiz may recognize the underpinnings of those 4 agreements. I also have been participating in that experiment and found that it is very hard to keep emotions and personal experiences from clouding the conversations. I think when you dig down we really all do want the same things in our lives -- but because we all have such different experiences we get lost in the weeds. Nice blog and recap.

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    1. I totally agree....I love the 4 agreements, I thought it was a good addition. I think we are more alike than different also

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  3. I find the experience challenging, but mostly to myself! I NEED to recognize my failings, my jumping to conclusions, my need to listen rather than speak. It seems to br good for us, Donna. But I find that we as a group have yet to come up with some positive action we can agree upon. But maybe just te fact that we're trying is tge positive action?!?

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    1. I have learned a lot, basically how I react to different personalities. I can be a brat and I can be magnanimous. It really depends on who pulls the strings.

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  4. I had joined into that experiment - and then, a couple of hours in, realized that, with my introverted nature, it was not the right experiment for me. There is an upcoming challenge for me the end of this month when I host a mini-family reunion. There are going to be people there that I have known for many, many years (some all of my life) and politics was never an issue until in the last two years or so. I am dreading if political debate breaks out because I have a feeling it won't end without hurt. We'll just have to see. It may be fortunate that one of the people attending happens to be a psychologist!

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    1. I don't envy you, but you can decide to decide.....go through the scenario before you encounter it. And stick with it, set boundaries and don't cross it. Determine to learn from everyone.....that might help

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    2. As a teacher and one who has planned many a family reunion, maybe consider putting some cards out that contain conversation starters. You could also have a scavenger hunt sheet that has "find someone you don't know who shares one of your hobbies, find someone who's lived in more than one state or country, etc." to get people knowing each other on other interesting levels. I'm sure you can find such "people scavenger hunt" lists online. Have fun!

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  5. Always be willing to ask questions and listen to, and consider, the answers while realizing that standing for nothing will lead to falling for anything. Learning to admit the possibility of being wrong allows for open dialogue that tends to either change one's perspective or validate current understanding of truth. Life is a journey. Let's learn to enjoy it together even when we agree to disagree agreeably.

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  6. I didn't even go there even though it sounded like an interesting idea. I'm in less stress mode although it's challenging on a daily basis.

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  7. I found it fascinating and I did learn things about myself. I try not to share real news and have hidden all radical sites - on both ends. The one thing I've noticed lately about posting and texting is that without voice inflection and facial expression, our words don't mean what we really want to say.

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  8. Bravo, Donna! So well written and easily understood. It has been an interesting experiment, for sure. I need to step away at times before my mouth (or typing fingers) get ahead of me.
    b

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  9. I've almost backed away but I believe in my heart we do have so much more in common than that which separates us. I am hoping we'll figure out the one or two issues we all feel passionately about and start finding that connection we've sadly lost.

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  10. Wonderful post, Donna. This past year has been difficult for all of us. In my 20's and early 30's I was a journalist. I watched every minute of the Watergate hearings and subsequently how Woodward and Bernstein changed the way the press covered the news. It took decades but influencing the world has become more important to the press than the facts. Regardless of who's elected, none of us are winners. Brenda

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  11. This is an experiment we, every one of us, could benefit from. Let the discourse continue!

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  12. Always be willing to ask questions and listen to, and consider, the answers while realizing that standing for nothing will lead to falling for anything.

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