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A Minor Encounter

Today I was waiting with a man who was wearing camouflage, talking conspiracy theories, and generally sounding very far-right conservative. My first thought was to challenge, or to simply dismiss him. I struggled for a moment. I wanted to throw my superior, enlightened viewpoints at him like a spear, and demonstrate just how inadequate his conservative thinking was.

Well, I didn't. What I wanted and what I did were two different things. We started to talk. I presented facts as I understood them. I wasn't confrontational, I just presented a different point of view. At one point he said, "I never had it explained to me like that before." The man was hungry, you see, for facts. For things that made good common sense. He was hungry for honest conversation, with someone he could talk to.

This is what the conservative movement is missing. They are feeding their followers a starvation diet of hate and hostility. Their people are hungry. So, even though I wanted to hate, and throw a spear, and demonstrate superiority, I couldn't. What I did, and this was from somewhere beyond me, believe me, what I did was practice tolerance, and trust, and maybe even a bit of love. And we had a nice conversation. A nice, honest conversation.

So, I guess what I learned today was what we're all learning today; we don't need more hate, we need understanding, compassion, and maybe a little bit of love. If each one of us tried reaching out to the one we don't want to reach out to, maybe we could get out of this in one piece.

Tom Pennington

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