Lifestyle, OYou BootCamp 2011

Getting Political – Lessons from our Boot Camp Week with Donna Brazile

After our OYou Week of Boot Camp week focusing on Donna Brazile, I walked away feeling both empowered and even a little inspired.  As I mentioned in my prior article, I had been looking forward to finding some great tips and inspiration from Donna.  I have always been very careful about who I engage in a political conversation.  The civility has been lost in conversations about our country.   Rather than the greatest minds pulling together and making groundbreaking decisions that set an example for the world, we appear to be trapped in superficial power plays that have less to do about long-term change and more to do with getting re-elected.  The men and women that we elect to office appear to never stop campaigning.   Sadly…this is what politics is becoming.  Constant finger-pointing, unrealistic promises and the inability to cooperate.  It doesn’t surprise me though.  Have you seen the way people talk to each other?  Even families have a hard time and they love each other.

This past week I focused on 3 areas:

  • Setting aside 30 minutes a day to read online about world politics, NOT just US politics.
  • Finding contact information for my local political party to see how I can get involved.
  • Try to set some new respectful rules for family discussions so that we can ALL start talking again.

The first task was easy with CNN.  I was able to select “International” as the edition (located at the top left side of the website).  This allowed me to be transported around the world.  From children starving in North Korea to reporters being attacked in Egypt to elephants fighting for their lives in a drought stricken East Africa.  There is so much going on around the world…so much that rarely makes it to our nightly news.   After only a week, I am already feeling better informed.

The next item on the agenda was finding my local party headquarters.  It was SO easy.  A few key google words and I had it. For those of you who may have missed the article, I posted it earlier in the week.  It provided volunteer links for both Democrats and Republicans.

The last task was actually the hardest.  A good political conversation can be both stimulating and inspiring.  However, the other day I found myself in a heated discussion with my “hot-headed” political family member.  It threw me a bit and I hesitated for a few days with even trying.  BUT as I originally said…change can’t happen if people don’t talk.  So, I have started by creating a few basic family ground rules to get us talking again.

  • Be open – Try to be as open  as possible.  We believe what we believe because we think we are right.  Try to understand why the other person feels the way they do.
  • Listen without plotting – When someone gives you information, hear them.  Don’t spend all your time weaving a counterattack while they are trying to explain something.
  • Not a laughing matter – Never laugh at the person who is talking to you.  Although you may not agree with their ideas or facts, it is rude.
  • No bad words or put downs – There’s no place for insults in a civilized conversation.  All it does is divide people and hurt feelings.
  • Come off the Soapbox – Real problems can be solved when people stop preaching and begin to really listen.  If you find you are talking more than listening…slow down.  No one wants to be preached to.
  • Learn together– Admit that you don’t know everything; no one does.  If both of you do that, then there is hope.
  • Don’t waste time on a fighter – Most of us have been in an argument with someone who is looking for a fight.  Many times their conversation spew of hate or negativity.  Politely walk away.  No one can make you engage and it isn’t worth it.
  • Agree to disagree– It is okay to see things differently.  I have come to realize that most situations have a gray area and it is possible that both people talking are right.  If you can’t agree, simply let it go.

Clearly you can tell by my rules that political discussions have gotten a bit heated in my home.  In general, we are respectful and open, but there have been moments.  Hopefully these rules will help!



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