I had a professor who told me a story about a conversation he had with a gay rights activist. He said the activist was talking about how hard it is to be prejudged and discriminated against. My professor said, “I know just how you feel, I feel the same way as a white, middle-aged, Christian evangelical male.” To which the activist responded, “WHAT? You guys are the problem, no one ever prejudges you.” My professor responded, “Yeah, if you told your gay friends that I’m a Christian, how many of them would want to hang out with me?” The activist was effectively silenced. But then, my professor did something that most people never do. Instead of being content with winning some stupid argument, he said, “So why don’t we go get a beer?” And they did. My professor said that they had a great conversation and that both of them felt that they understood the other better.
For an example of this, here’s a link to a moderated conversation hosted by Krista Tippett (On Being) from October 16, 2012 – The Future of Marriage. Both guests David and Jonathan do an excellent job of blazing a trail, a path to civility and genuine understanding.
You can only achieve understanding through listening to those you think you already know. Try it, you’ve got nothing to lose but ignorance. And regardless of what they might say, ignorance ain’t bliss, it’s carcinogenic.