Feb. 19, 2011

Vol. 6, Num. 2

Kalimba Magic NEWS

Message from Mark
The Challenge of Respectful Debate

I have some strongly held convictions - that we all have the light of God burning within our hearts and, as a consequence, we all need to be treated with love and respect. Equality is an essential piece of the puzzle for me.

Peace is another essential thing for me. Peace is an outward sign of an inward state. And I seek a world that has no need for war - which leads me to ask "What do we need to do to remove the causes of war?" Most wars that are fought do nothing to eliminate the underlying causes of war, but only build in resentments and inequity which will burst forth into another war in the unknown future.

I am usually able to address such deeply held beliefs in a more social context. But last month in the newsletter I addressed these beliefs in a political context. The shootings in Tucson, my home, were too painful for me, and the fact that the Kalimba Magic newsletter is sent to 5000 people around the world was too tempting. I had an opportunity to make a call for healing, for respect among members of opposing political parties that have increasingly become locked in nasty and heated rhetoric that many of us feel is not going to lead to anything good. The fallout that ensued from that message should not have taken me so much by surprise - but it did.

Yesterday, I was talking with Betty, a friend of mine who happens to be conservative. I am so glad that I have friends whom I love and admire who happen to be conservative! When someone I care about holds beliefs that are different from mine, I realize that there must be something to those beliefs. I only wish the conservatives that came from neocon.com had more liberal friends they cared about, so they wouldn't be so ready to barricade themselves behind a negative lens, poised to do battle. Dialogue is not possible if we are not able to listen to each other.

The hard truth is that we are guilty on both sides of the line. Betty told me about her experience a few years back at the Tucson Peace Fair. She came out to hear me play music. Someone approached her and asked if she was registered to vote. "Of course!" Which party? (Ah, they NEVER should have asked.) "Republican." At that point the interaction went down the tubes. I am embarrassed for this poor liberal who could very well be someone I know. But I really regret that Betty had to deal with this kind of thing at the Peace Fair - of all places. She probably won't be going to it again - and that's tragic.

It's challenging, but I believe dialogue is possible - if we can place politics aside and relate to each other more basically, reaching out to each other to form a bridge, an overarching understanding that we are fundamentally and primarily human beings - not Democrat or Republican or Conservative or Liberal or Progressive or Independent or whatever.

We each need to hear the other's perspective to sharpen our thinking and develop a more nuanced world view. Progress is sculpted out of the friction of respectful debate.

—Mark Holdaway


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