I have one of those tote bags from the NRA I received when I purchased a membership. I took it with me to meet a friend at Starbucks. A young woman in the cafe noticed it and came over to investigate why I had a bag from an organization devoted to the murder of children.
I offered her a seat which she accepted and we began our discussion of the NRA. I let her start. For the next few minutes, I was peppered with liberal talking points and emotional arguments, most that had nothing to do with the NRA. None had any substance behind them, but I just listened and asked questions to see if I could draw out her thinking.
She realized her comments were not having the desired effect. She started asking me questions. I stopped her and said, “I agree with everything you say, only from the perspective that your vision of our society is very different from reality.”
It was as if I shot her dog. But before she could get on a roll, I asked her to just listen to me and then I moved into my speech. Before long, she started to recognize that she did not understand any of her talking points, but that my arguments made her think.
This continued on for 20 more minutes before she realized that she was woefully uninformed. She asked me if I thought she was just a dumb kid. I asked her, “Explain to me how you came up with those opinions.” She tells me her college instructors were her biggest influence. It came across to me as idol worship. They are infallible to her.
Naturally, I helped her grasp that her instructors are not “perfect” nor are they infallible.
As we went on, her tone has softened since she realized I was not a “gun nut”, that I just had a bag with the NRA logo on it.
That’s not to say I didn’t explain my views. She hopefully, went away with the thought that it’s OK for others to have points of view different from hers and that examining her own is a good thing especially at a young age.
I know that not every college kid with radical leftist ideology will let me off the hook. I like to think that my good looks are enough to disarm the most radical fascist thinkers, but if not, then hopefully the free flow of ideas will make their mark.
As she left, I wished her luck, and she thanked me for the wonderful conversation. I have no idea if it will take root, but I’m hopeful. It’s good to connect with the younger generation and plant seeds that may benefit them later in life.
And then later, my oldest texted me. She admitted I was right about some advice I offered her a month ago. I smiled. By the way, the bag has a laptop in it I was bringing for my friend. Totally harmless.
Many of the students taking classes in my department say that some of our classes (we have a few ideologues of course) are the first time they’ve really had discussions with others whose viewpoints are different. We keep it polite and try to get everyone to express their true opinion. It’s an interesting event. Quite a few seem to come away with an idea of why Free Speech is a good thing.
I also have online discussions on some kind of heated topics. The main rules are: no name calling, you cannot say “you’re wrong” you must say “I disagree with you no this point” (even a lot of points one at a time) “and this is why”, no textspeak or twitter abbreviations — write good English (forces more clear thought), no “bad language” and I get to decide what that is. Otherwise it’s a free-for-all and well-presented explanations earn the most points. Since this comprises 1/3 or so of the semester grade, by the third discussion they get to be really good. And they seem to like them.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I would love to watch one of those sessions. One of my friends from high school is a very liberal professor in Michigan. While he and I very much disagree on policy, he does not lecture his students and encourages free speech. His policy is to keep it civil similar to yours. He has invited me to attend one of his lectures, but I have yet to find a time when I am able. One day, hopefully soon, I can sit and provide a very different perspective.
“A young woman in the cafe noticed it and came over to investigate why I had a bag from an organization devoted to the murder of children.”
You said it was an NRA bag, not Planned Parenthood.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I don’t carry pink bags around. Just not my thing.