The first time I published an article in an academic journal, I worked with an editor whose political views diverged from mine. He used his power as an editor to attempt to censor my thoughts by excluding sections of my work and suggesting rewrites that changed the meaning of what I wrote. I begrudgingly compromised in some areas and firmly stood my ground in others. It was an ongoing battle with several rounds of edits on each side.

The topic of my paper was something that to me seems very politically benign, almost common sense. My analysis was balanced, thorough, and fact-based. Yet, it provoked a power struggle that led to a diminished message. I think it would have been more constructive to include my fully flushed out thoughts as a beginning point for dialogue or even debate.

I welcome challenge. It helps me to affirm my core while expanding my range of knowledge and understanding. Editors should challenge, not censor.

I am currently working with the best team of editors – at least from the perspective of this writer as an artist. They have yet to suggest content changes, only stylistic (capitalization, abbreviations) adjustments.  It is wonderfully unique for my voice to feel trusted and valued.

Expanding Understanding

It is possible for us to expand our understanding of the world without abandoning our core or our current range of beliefs. Let’s say that person A and person B have opposing views on an issue. Their field of understanding may be disconnected, adjoined, or overlapping. As  they engage in meaningful dialogue, the understanding of each may grow so that there is both additional area of overlap and new, unexpected areas of possibility. Each person can absorb the view of the other and integrate it into their own knowledge and being without shifting their center or losing their current realm of understanding.

From Debate to Dialogue

In political debate, there is a tendency for one candidate to criticize the ideas of the opponent, if not the opponent her- or himself. What if we shifted from “no, because” debates to “yes, and” dialogue? At best, we could have some of the most passionate and committed people collaboratively creating innovative solutions. At worst, the candidate with the guts to try this method will totally throw off the opponent while exhibiting desirable characteristics desperately sought in our political leadership. Divisive political debate can transform into generative community dialogue. What is more important, winning an election or succeeding as a nation?

Pride, Prejudice, and Politics

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy is greatly understood by those with whom he has not developed an intimate acquaintance. Elizabeth, in particular, finds him offensive until she falls madly in love with him and they live happily ever after.

Our pride and our prejudice stand in the way of compassion and understanding for each other, leading to a breakdown of our political system. We lack political and civil intimacy; these relationships are shaped by manipulative tactics and reactivity rather than dialogue and philia. We sometimes feel detached, hopeless, and bitter rather than meaningfully engaged and purposeful.

Let’s fall madly in love with each other through a shared sense of community. Let’s transform politics into a positive sum game. Let’s let go of our pride and prejudice. Let’s change the world by changing ourselves.