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Saturday, July 23, 2005

More On Labels and John Birch Society

Allen Gorin responds to Skip March's comment below:

Skip, while political labels can and do help us to understand the world, they also can be very limiting in the sense that we cease actually listening to individuals, and the very real positions behind the labeling. It's much easier to meet "a liberal" and project onto him or her all sorts of positions, values, and the like, instead of actually listening. To paraphrase the President, "Listening is hard work!!!"

But listening to individuals is the only way of really connecting with people, even in a political context. This attitude is what prompted me to check out the John Birchers many years ago (as I recall, 1984). I had read about these "anti-Semitic, racist, right-wing extremists" and at some point became curious enough to actually want to meet them. With my fiancée (my wife Leslie), I drove out to their western regional office in San Marino, CA, and spent some time talking with their leadership. I attended a few of their meetings, and to this day still get their flagship publication, The New American. While I think some of their membership can and do go off the deep end with the conspiratorial lens through which they view the world, I found most of them to be straight-shooting, patriotic Americans deeply concerned with the leftward movement of the culture. Never did I sense even a whiff of anti-Semitism, and in the 20 or so years I've been reading the New American, have never read any anti-Jewish, anti-Israel stuff.

But back to listening and connecting with people. What I particularly appreciate about this Ettublog group is the willingness to listen; to look for ways to build bridges. So often, political junkies only want to talk, and assume they've got the market on truth. There is way too much ego. With a different attitude, we--as bridge-building types--can do a tremendous amount of good by bringing this spirit into other groups with whom we choose to affiliate.

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