civil conversationI love the idea that there’s a civil conversations project. Officially, I mean. Because it’s what I’ve been trying to foster — despite my lapses into ranting about racism & social injustice — on my own FB page. Today, I had a glimpse of how that’s born fruit.

A former student, a former colleague, and a friend & colleague are discussing a topic one knows intimately from the personal perspective. It’s the new horse slaughter bill in Oklahoma, and my former student’s family once bred horses. His take is that we need legal horse slaughterhouses for those horses who turn out poorly bred — not his family’s, but those possibly bred by less knowledgeable (& responsible) breeders. My question is why are we un-doing a law that the state passed in response to the theft of perfectly good horses to sell for slaughter…?

My former colleague is looking at the rhetoric of the state arguments in favour of horse slaughter. He’s a masterful rhetorician, and has done a devastating analysis of the emotion (& illogic) explicit in many of the pro arguments. My friend & colleague knows nothing about the topic, and would like to learn more from hearing both perspectives.

Wow. Isn’t this just what we wish everyone would do? Talk to each other politely about big differences? Bring our varied lives & values and experiences and knowledge to any topic? I’ve already learned from both Cody & Bryan —  my former student (now a multi-degreed professional) and my colleague (also multi-degreed, and in graduate school). And that’s what my friend Rebecca said, as well: isn’t it great when you know nothing about a topic to hear it discussed with civility?

Or as Buddhists would say, lovingkindness. Which is just a fancy term for common courtesy, respect for differences, and good manners. Honouring the human connection each of us has to one another. Wonder why it’s so hard for Congress. 🙂

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