Our country is deeply divided. We need to work hard to make sure we come together rather than coming apart. Democracy doesn’t just happen on Election Day at the polls. Democracy happens every day, through every interaction we have with each other. More empathy and understanding can keep us from needlessly inflaming one another and ultimately help bring us together.
Our future depends on our ability to have difficult conversations all across the country. Constructive disagreement and democratic debate is the basis of all progress. We need each other.
Will you dive into the #messytruth with us?
Our challenge to you is to talk to a friend or family member who has different political views than you have. Be curious. Ask questions about anything that doesn’t sound right to you. But don’t just fight back. Try to listen. Be passionate, but be compassionate, too. Whatever you discover in the process, we’d love to hear about it. You can share it under the hashtag #MessyTruth or by sharing your story in the feedback box.
In The Messy Truth, Van Jones sets an example for how we might begin to have these conversations. There's no magic formula for finding common ground, but these might help:
Watch and learn from Van Jones
7 guidelines for having #MessyTruth conversations
Listen with empathy: Give your full, undivided attention and listen deeply. Try to understand where they’re coming from. Look the person in the eye, listen with your whole body. Don’t just think about the next thing you want to say or how to win the debate. Don’t be judgemental - even if you strongly disagree, hear them out. See this as an opportunity to do some research and learn something new. You’re just trying to understand. Try repeating back what they said and see if you got it right. Give them a chance to clarify and make sure you understand.
Speak authentically: Speak authentically and honestly about your feelings. Share your views but don’t just regurgitate talking points. What are your hopes? What are your fears? Why is it important to you to talk to them about this?
Expect to be surprised: Be curious. Don’t assume you already know what they’re going to say. Don’t assume you understand them. Give them the opportunity to surprise you.
Make a plan: Ask a friend to support you. Make a plan with them about who you might talk to, where you’ll meet, how you’ll start and end the conversation. Maybe even practice. Get together again after you have your conversation to debrief what happened.
Be comfortable with silence: Silence is ok. It will give you a chance to gather your thoughts, reflect, and be intentional about how the conversation continues.
Breathe: If you feel yourself getting upset or frustrated, don’t forget to breathe.
Know your limits: Don’t push yourself too far. Know when you’re triggered. Take a deep breath or go to the bathroom. If you aren’t able to get centered again, have a plan to wrap up the conversation. If you’re able, continue it another time. Don’t push yourself so far that the conversation ends up creating more division.
Get together with your neighbors and friends and watch the #MessyTruth on CNN at 9pm ET with special guest Bill Maher. Jones, Maher and audience members will discuss the Trump administration's recent Executive Orders, Supreme Court nominee, Cabinet appointments and where the country is headed.
Tell us what you thought of the special and what you learned. Are you ready to try and have a #MessyTruth conversation of your own?
- THE MESSY TRUTH
- » Feb. 10 - 9p ET/ 6p PT
- » Feb. 23 - 9p ET/ 6p PT
- » Mar. 2 - 9p ET/ 6p PT
Upcoming on CNN:
- » Episode 1: The Messy Truth
- » Episode 2: Four Moms Debate Trump: When Friends Disagree
- » Episode 3: The Next Civil War