I Think You’re Wrong, (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers

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If you have any interest in America as an entity right now you should probably read I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations. Don’t worry it’s short and fast. It’s part how-to manual and part open discussion of some of the issues plaguing the political divide right now. Only two people with this kind of respect for each other and themselves could have written this book.

I know it is so necessary right now. I don’t believe it could have been written or released right after Trump was elected because I think some of us needed to get some anger off our chests first. Now, most of us have calmed down enough to realize that we can’t keep going down this road and we’re sick of people just fighting on party lines. It’s exhausting and it’s not constructive in the slightest.

Sarah and Beth are also writing in the hope that people will realize their need to educate themselves. Not just on what an issue means now, but on what it meant when it began and what it can mean in the future. They tackled some hot-button issues and opened them up a little bit without making them the entire basis of the book or chapter.

There was a Christian slant to the writing, but not in an annoying or pushy way. Both writers acknowledge that many people reading their work will not be Christians, but because their faith means so much to them they don’t feel that they could have written the book without including it. And I think it’s an important inclusion simply due to the fact that the book is about not being argumentative and angry or to stop listening just because you disagree with some of what a person is saying. For that reason I not only kept reading the book but I chose not to skip over the Christian specific moments. No, I’m not converted, but I’m also not angry with them for including this side of themselves in what must have been a very personal book to write.

Each chapter is built around a specific tip the pair would like people to try and each one ended with some homework that is meant to expand the reader’s viewpoint on any number of issues. I can openly admit here that I did not in fact try all of these homework assignments though I’m sure the ones I skipped would have been as enlightening as the ones I participated in.

I think the single most important thing that they talked about was how the set up for our conversational conversations are always us vs them, it is always a debate of some kind. This creates the idea of a winner and a loser rather than two people approaching a problem with two different solutions. I view this as most important because I think a lot of us are willing to talk politics with people of different viewpoints, but only so long as it does not become an argument or worse a screaming match. The debate is meant to give everyone a fair share on each topic, but it almost never works out that way. I think it may be important to dismantle this way of choosing a candidate in favor of a more open method that allows multiple minds to work on an issue rather than shutting off anything the main power doesn’t agree with.

I’m ultra-sensitive about gender equality and how feminism has the potential to become a monster so I tend to nitpick at books that come at this issue. This book was 90% good regarding feminism and making sure to bring women up to the level of men when it comes to talking politics. However it did have a few tiny spots where it felt like it was saying men cannot do something simply because they are men. The idea was that viewers had told Sarah and Beth that they did not like it when men came on the show to talk politics with them because they wanted this to stay a female only show because women are so often not included in this very important topic.

While I agree with that to a certain extent I just want to say that just because a group’s voice has been heard doesn’t mean that the individual should be ignored. That’s like saying we’ve heard enough from Democarts/Republicans so Hilary Clinton/Donald Trump shouldn’t even be allowed on TV. Obviously that’s a hyperbole, but the gist is similar. Also, I think by keeping men from talking about politics with women, specifically well-known podcast-running-women who can be heard and set an example, they are missing out on a bigger audience, more viewpoints, and they are setting it up for us vs them in which women can only discuss politics with women and men can only discuss it with men. I’m not saying that the whole show should be half and half. I think their dynamic works amazing as it is, but an occasional male wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Would recommend for anyone who likes politics, would like to talk politics or is afraid to talk politics.

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