This week we brought back episode thirteen's guest, Boone Cutler. You'll remember Boone as a veteran, radio host, author, and creator of the Spartan Pledge, a pledge for Warfighters designed to combat the epidemic of veteran suicide. Boone is also a long time supporter of President Trump. He and I sit down to chat about President Trump. Ultimately this conversation had less to do with Trump and more to do with how we talk about this polarizing figure, the assumptions we make about people who disagree with us, and how we can move forward as a country.
I'll be very honest, I'm nervous to put this episode out into the world. From every side, this conversation leaves room for someone to be angry, disappointed, frustrated or unhappy. There are plenty of people who will hope this conversation is a winner take all situation, with one person laying out the exact perfect argument that will leave the other side speechless, defeated.
But that's not real life. And that wasn't the point of this conversation. Neither one of us was ever going to convince the other person of our "rightness." The point of this conversation was to listen. To speak our truth and viewpoint as kindly as we know how. To stay in even if there's tension or disagreement. To learn something from the other person.
This conversation was two humans trying to do just that. We didn't do it perfectly. I'm sure there are a million things people wish both of us said differently. But this was the very real conversation we had. And I think it was a worthwhile one. Because we left it well. We found some middle ground. We held the tension and sought peace.
And for me, I had some big takeaways. First and foremost, I've got to stop dehumanizing people with whom I disagree. I have to be able to believe the best about them. Even if I don't want to. Listen, it would have been much easier to just assume the worst about Boone and try to argue my way through that conversation. Hell, it would have been easiest to just avoid the conversation and Boone all together. I can live in peace and harmony with every one who agrees with me all the live long day. But I don't think that's the way forward and I don't think that's helpful for the bigger picture. There is a tension that needs to be held in these conversations. I can absolutely believe that President Trump has used racism and bigotry to gain power, but I don't have to believe that Boone is racist because he doesn't see it that way. Calling him a racist doesn't get us anywhere. Believing the worst about him doesn't continue the conversation.
Another takeaway is listening respectfully to what someone says doesn't mean I agree with them. There was plenty of stuff I said that I'm sure Boone vehemently disagrees with. But he listened respectfully. And that matters. If we can continue showing up to conversations like these without shutting down stuff we don't agree with, we can continue having the conversations. These are conversations that happen over time, with thoughtful dialogue. No one is persuaded away from their beliefs by bullying or 140 characters.
And, Boone made a comment towards the end of our conversation that stuck with me. He said something to the effect that if we start our conversation around the polarizing thing we're going to get stuck. We should approach these kinds of issues around where we agree. I loved his idea of listing what is important to us for our country. I think he's right that our priorities around these lists will be different, but there will be agreement and that's a good place to start.
I am very thankful to Boone for being willing to have the conversation. I hope and trust that my listeners will be respectful and appreciative as well. It is no small thing to put oneself out there like he did. It was risky and vulnerable and I'm thankful he showed up to the conversation.