Listening to the “Other Side”

I am politically left of center. On some issues, such as LGBT rights, I’m certainly liberal. On others, such as economic issues, I’m less convicted, but I still lean left on most things. Our current polarized society feels like it’s divided into two tribes: The Liberals and The Conservatives. Or call them whatever you like…Progressives and Traditionalists, Blue and Red, Democrats and Republicans, Sharks and Jets, whatever. So I really ought to be identifying myself with The Liberals, and believe that everything that comes out of the mouth of a Liberal is true and good, while everything that comes from a Conservative is false.

And certainly, if I only paid attention to cable news and social media, it seems like there is no other alternative.

And I’ll be honest — it’s tempting. I see so many memes on Facebook and other places that are designed to “own the libs” or to demean conservatives. To an outsider looking in, it might look like the biggest questions in our country are being decided between people who think that everything should be taken from you at gunpoint and given to others, and people who think that your sex life is what determines your worth. Or maybe between people who think that white people are the chosen people of God, angels among men; and those who believe that white people are of the devil, literal pond scum who should be wiped off our feet without remorse.

Those are horrible oversimplifications, certainly. But that’s the point — we’ve reached a point where horrible oversimplification is the name of the game. I recently read about a poll stating that 90% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans both think that this country will be severely affected negatively if the other party wins the upcoming election. 90%! Of both sides! So tribalism seems to me to be the best word to describe our experience right now.

Which is why I want to give a huge shout-out to The Dispatch, a “digital media company providing engaged citizens with fact-based reporting and commentary on politics, policy and cultureā€”informed by conservative principles.” I first discovered the Dispatch by reading newspaper columns written by Jonah Goldberg. I always enjoyed his writing, his insights, and the way he could talk from a conservative standpoint without needing to ridicule or mock those who disagreed with him. When I read them, I don’t feel attacked. When I learned that he and some colleagues were starting The Dispatch, I signed up, and after a few months, I became a paid subscriber.

So yes, I pay money for the opportunity to read news articles and opinion pieces written from a conservative standpoint. And I really appreciate it. I don’t feel that I’m “betraying my tribe.” And I don’t feel like I’m supporting “the other tribe.” I feel like I’m participating in a reasonable debate among reasonable people. I don’t agree with everything I read. For instance, I have discovered the writings of David French, and I deeply appreciate his insight into the current state of Christianity and how the church can be a force of good in the word in these times. When I read one of his pieces where he explains why he doesn’t use people’s preferred pronouns, my first gut reaction was to say, “But that’s wrong! I can’t read your stuff anymore!” But that reaction didn’t last. I disagree with him on that point, and I think he’s wrong. But that doesn’t take away from all the insight and wisdom he’s shared with me on other things.

That’s rare today, I think. But I love it. I’ve found that I have a lot in common with these particular conservative thinkers, and that I also disagree with them on some key points. And it feels like a conversation. I don’t have to avoid thinking about these things — I can listen.

I strongly recommend The Dispatch to any liberal friends of mine. And I’m also very curious to know if any conservative friends of mine have found a similar news source on the left, which offers insight without attack. If so, let me know in the comments.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

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