The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging the informed and active participation of citizens in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.
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Mary Crowley, President___________________________________________________________
League of Women Voters North County San Diego
I'm fortunate to have many friends here in our community. But I'm aware that I move in a "bubble" of like-minded people when it comes to social and political issues. However, recently I had a guest for dinner who shocked me by saying that "everyone should carry a gun". Rather than confront him with my views and statistics, I just silently acknowledged that his view of the world is different from mine. But I do wish I had the skills to engage those with different worldviews in meaningful, and non-confrontational, dialogue on issues that matter to all of us.
There are many organizations nation-wide that bring together people of diverse backgrounds and views to engage in a dialogue around a key issue. Among those organizations is The National Issues Forum, National Coalition for Deliberation and Dialogue, Kettering Foundation, and America Speaks. I admire the work all these organizations do. But at the same time I find that none pursue helping us understand our foundational worldviews and values that influence our belief of what Democracy (and government) should provide. It is those assumptions about "what's right", i.e. our worldviews (also referred to as "deep frames"), that influence our opinions and actions. I've searched for a workable framework that we could use; so far I haven't found one. One I am considering is by George Lakoff. He states that there are six fundamental American values: Fairness, Freedom, Responsibility, Integrity, Equality and Security. He believes that conservatives and progressives, because of their different worldviews, talk about these same values - but in some cases have very different ideas about what a value means. He identifies progressive principles as: Common Good, Expansion of Freedom, Human Dignity, and Diversity. Conservative principles he identifies as: Moral Authority, Individual Responsibility, Free Market, and Bootstraps. In just this list I can see the clash between those who support the Common Good and those who support Individual Responsibility. Behind our views about healthcare, immigration, gun control, etc. lies our deep worldviews of what's "right" or "moral". Lakoff said, "If facts don't fit the frames [worldviews] people have, they will keep the frames and ignore, forget, or explain away the facts. The facts must be framed in a way to make sense in order to be accepted as a basis for further reasoning....One person's common sense is another's evil political ideology".
So my journey continues to find a way we can explain our views to people with other views - so that we can discuss "issues that matter" and can continue the League efforts of "Making Democracy Work" (for all of us).
Petti Van Rekom
Date: November 15, 2013
Printed with permission from The Voter - Capo Bay LWV
Petti Van Rekom, President, Capistrano Bay League of Women Voters
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