When it comes to politics, my future father-in-law and I are on opposite sides of the spectrum. I delight in doing things like signing him up for emails from the Obama campaign. He returns the fire with an email volley of his own. Ours is a good-natured version of what has become an increasingly polarized political landscape. There's a difference, though. I think we learn a little from each other every once in a while.
It's easy to get swept away in rhetoric, and in defending "your side." When he writes me, I do my best to listen. I very much respect him as a person (his love for his children and his wife is abundant and clear), and I owe him the respect of listening to what he has to say. People express who they are through what they believe, and the world has shaped his opinions just as the world has shaped mine. In listening with an open mind and an open heart, I learn more about who he really is, and about what makes him tick.
Today's assignment might be tougher than it sounds. Take 5-10 minutes and listen, REALLY listen, to what the "other side" has to say. Drop your defensive stance and your exhaustive store of political facts, and just listen with compassion. Listen for THEM, not for YOU. Try this with politics, with religion, with "who was the best Dr. Who?," and you just might learn something you didn't know.
As always, I'd love to hear how it goes!