The Other I

November 14, 2016

Front door dialogue

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 12:46 pm

Many members of my family have been exchanging views about the result of the U.S. election, and asking what we can do about the geysers of hatred and resentment that seem to be gushing up around us.

One of my sisters reminded us of what we call our family “Table Discussions” which characterized so many of our evening meals.  My father was a lawyer and during these discussions he taught us one of the most important things I’ve ever learned – that to win an argument, it is important to understand the opposition’s argument from their point of view.  So we would often assign ourselves to argue for a position that, in truth, we thought was wrong.  It helped us realize that the point of view of those who disagree with us sometimes makes a lot of sense.

Image resultSo about half an hour ago, our door bell rang.  It was two Jehovah Witnesses.  I confess I could not resist the temptation to engage in what I’d learned around that family dinner table.  In response to their reading to me from the Bible to illustrate just how selfish and materialistic people are today, I quoted the Bible back to them to support my reasons for seeing love and care for their families and communities reflected in the unemployed who had voted for Trump in the States and for Brexit over here.

Very friendly and respectful, but quoting the bible back to them in support of my disagreement was not a strategy they were equipped to deal with.  When I told them I thought the solution was love, she stumbled and said but there was something more — and then to her credit said “well there really isn’t anything greater than love, I guess.”  “Yes, God is love,” I said, at which point the mail man showed up at the door.  I think they were hugely relieved to say thank you and use that as an excuse to depart.

Not sure I should be proud of myself.  I enjoyed it too much.  And anyway, I wasn’t arguing for the side I disagreed with.




  1. This is interesting. And I do agree with you on love in general, but I wanted to understand this line in a little more detail : ” I quoted the Bible back to them to support my reasons for seeing love and care for their families and communities reflected in the unemployed who had voted for Trump in the States and for Brexit over here.”
    If I am right, you are saying that families that voted for Trump and Brexit need our love, not our resentment, and I agree with you. But are you saying that those families voted Trump/Brexit OUT OF LOVE? Because I don’t think so. I think they did so out of anger, despair and resentment (which emotions need to be understood and addressed with love).
    Stretching that same point, terrorists do what they do out of a similar, though extreme, set of emotions. Yes, there is a HUGE difference between voting Trump and blowing up people – only one of these actions is illegal or immoral – but unlike Oklahomans and Floridans, people who become terrorists lack a democratic mechanism to register their voice, and their frustration takes an evil shape instead.
    Instead of lashing out at several countries when 9/11 happened, I wish we had said, we need to understand why these people are so full of hate and anger. And do something about that. Wouldn’t that have been the Christian thing to do? Wouldn’t that have been the ethical thing to do?
    Please note that I am not a Christian, (nor a Muslim for that matter) but I believe that doesn’t stop me from having a philosophical attitude to ethics that is not dissimilar to what the Bible recommends.
    (Re: Jehovah’s Witnesses though: I’d have enjoyed myself too!)


    Comment by psriblog — November 15, 2016 @ 2:31 pm | Reply

    • Thank you very much for your comment. Yes, I agree – it does sound as if I were defending some of the reasons for voting for Trump as examples of love. And like you, I agree they seem much more like responses of anger and resentment and despair. What I didn’t do in my post was to spell out the full dialogue. The Jehovah Witnesses were suggesting to me that those who voted for Trump (and Brexit) were indeed examples of the selfishness that they were illustrating with their Biblical quote from Timothy, and asked what I thought. I said I thought that it was only half right, that I wholeheartedly disagreed with the Trumpsters, but if I were in their positions, I too might have felt the way they do. I began to spell out the kind of points I made in my earlier post — how would you feel if your daughter were dating a Muslim who believed in honor killings? Or if a Romanian immigrant was taking your job for pay that will support his family in Romania but which is not enough for you to feed your family? etc. I said I think we need to understand their responses in that context. I didn’t say this, but I think for us to engage in our own name calling simply deepens the divide. It will not feed the hungry or clothe the poor.

      Like you I am neither a believing Christian nor Muslim. The best I can come up with is that we live in mystery, and that love and respect for all the universe and what is in it is my highest value. I also believe that the talents we have — including thinking and problem-solving — should be used to the best of our abilities. I am emphatically not in favor of either blaming “God” for what happens to us or even for trusting “him” to take care of us. We are given responsibilities, and although we are not all-powerful or all-wise, we must do what we can.

      I do think we are on the same page, don’t you? Speaking of pages, I am now off to read your latest blog post at I see already that I am in agreement with Thaler’s view of economics.

      Again, thank you. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Terry Sissons — November 15, 2016 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: