So last weekend I went to my grandma’s house for a family event. My grandma is eighty three years old and still kicking. I love her very much and admire her for many reasons. However some of her comments about the protests in Baltimore took me by surprised and got me thinking about how to talk to someone with a completely different view point than myself and more specifically how to change their mind.
While we were watching the news at the breakfast table a story on the protests in Baltimore came on and the first thing she says is, “Look at what these thugs are doing”. At first I was shocked into silence because my grandma is usually pretty accepting and if she doesn’t share her opinion on something like this, she’s usually pretty mild and quiet so I was struck by this outcry. I then asked her why she called them thugs and she said that’s because that’s what they are. She then changed subjects and I was still so shocked I didn’t know what to say.
Upon further reflection a few things about this interaction stuck with me and got me thinking. First of all was the way the media is reporting on the “riots”. Apparently PEACEFUL protests have been going on since the incident more than almost two weeks ago but the news really picked up on the story when they turned violent. There was looting and property damage and immediately the media sprang to action. Suddenly these “thugs” were “rioting” “unnecessarily” and didn’t deserve any respect or actions based on their entirely valid requests. So I guess I gave my grandma a little forgiveness because if you only watch one news station–probably conservative–and don’t do any research on your own, you have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on.
The second thing that struck me came bout when I was listening to a This American Life episode–sorry not sorry I love podcasts. This episode was called The Incredible Rarity of Changing One’s Mind and it’s about getting people to change their minds and how incredibly wrong that is. It starts with an interview with an advocacy agency in California working to legalize gay marriage. Its workers would go out into the street and purposefully try to talk to people who voted against legalizing same sex marriage and understand why so as to better be able to counter their arguments. They realized that the more personal stories and appealing to logic worked. (To be honest I haven’t finished the whole episode so there might be further comments). Anyway, I would be interested to see how this would function in an example like what occurred between me and my grandmother. Would it function across different generations? Or with regards to race? What about a white person talking to another person about the black lives matter movement?