Is it Too Late?

May 25

Is it Too Late?

Saturday Salon Question: What can be gained by talking deeply with people who hold views vastly different from your own?

WE VISITED MY DAD THE OTHER DAY and I was surprised by how far right he’s become in his politics. Maybe he was always that way, but too polite to say. Being in your 80′s gives you a certain license to speak more freely.

He asked me what I thought of President Obama (just “Obama” to him) and if I would vote for him again if that were possible. I said it would depend on who else was running. Although I don’t agree with every decision he’s made, I think he has accomplished much good and done the best he could do, given the unprecedented obstruction he’s faced at every turn. Add a dysfunctional, polarized Congress to the mix, and it’s surprising he has been able to do anything.

My father shared his strong view that Obama has harmed America and we are not only losing ground as a world power, but are in grave danger from terrorists due to his actions as President. He also does not believe human beings have anything to do with climate change, so sees no need to protect our environment from fracking, drilling, and building pipelines-doing whatever it takes to keep oil flowing so we can be “energy independent” and return to our former glory as a world power. For him, it’s all about economics.

My dear father watches Fox news every day, almost exclusively, but doesn’t believe they have any influence on his world views. He says he also watches CNN and other shows. I listen to NPR, watch  BBC News, read the New York Times, watch a LOT of documentaries, and get a lot of my news on the internet. I admit I can’t stand more than ten seconds of Fox “news”. We live in different informational universes.

Now, my father is one of the most intelligent men I know, so it astounds me that he sincerely believes these things to be true. “After all,” he informed me, “why is it that scientists still don’t agree about climate change?”

“WHAT????” my mind screamed silently. How can he believe this? Hasn’t he seen the latest report by one of the largest scientific groups that says if anything, they were too cautious previously?

It would have done no good to tell him that there is no longer any disagreement among scientists regarding the effect humans have had on the environment, and why saving the whales matters. I’m not going to change his mind.  So, why bother talking to each other, if each of us already have our minds made up? My dad and I can talk about these things heatedly, but not argue, but most people can’t.  Most people avoid talking politics or religion with anyone but those they know agree with them.

Hmmm….what do you think? Are Saturday Salons worth having, other than the entertainment they provide? Can we have any effect? Can we influence? Can we learn or change our own views? Does talking do any good? Why bother?

What can be gained by talking deeply with people who hold views vastly different from your own?



  1. Marylou /

    I read a lot of interesting articles here. Probably you spend a lot of time writing – Thank You!

    • What can gained by talking deeply with people who hold views different than your own? Knowledge – it is a fundamental principle that “nobody knows everything about anything” so we can all learn by talking with others – the key is too keep an open mind…

      • admin /

        I agree, Brian!

      • I agree, Brian. Too many people have already made up their minds – glad to hear you are open. Have you tried hosting a Saturday Salon yet?

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