It seems to me that we’re each going to have to figure out how to respond to hate speech and symbols in the moments when we least expect to confront them: while shopping at the supermarket, going to a concert, or even spending a beautiful day at the beach. Otherwise, the abnormal will become the norm.
…pull it off, it always helps — lowering the heat of the conversation and the odds it will go wrong. This sounds squishy but it is a key to the kingdom. Having someone articulate your most important message proves that you’ve been understood, which is all most of us want.
There are other tricks for doing this, even under time pressure. In conversations across profound divides, Resetting the Table trains people to listen for specific clues or “signposts,” which are usually symptoms of deeper, hidden meaning. Signposts include words like “always” or “never,” any sign of emotion, the use of metaphors, statements of identity, words that get repeated or any signs of confusion or ambiguity. When you hear one of these clues, identify it explicitly and ask for more.
The idea is to revive complexity in a time of false simplicity. “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete,” novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her mesmerizing TED Talk “A Single Story.” “[I]t’s imposs…
t they do. I have overvalued reasoning in myself and others and under…zed that I’ve overestimated my ability to quickly understand what drives people to do what they do. I have overvalued reasoning in myself and others and undervalued pride, fear and the need to belong. I’ve been operating like an economist, in other words — an economist from the 1960s.