What’s your Paradigm?

Visiting is one thing. Spending months in another part of America is another—like coming from the third largest city in a blue state to a small rural city in a red state. While I love Rochester, where I was born and raised, I fell in love with Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, nestled between the Blue Ridge and Smokey mountains. Every turn, twist, and deep dip of the roads presented one breathtaking view after another.

I found the pace slower, the people immensely friendly and helpful, and they’re not afraid to say “Jesus” out loud. There was a sign on the city water works office that announced it would be closed on Good Friday. I can’t imagine the Monroe County Water Authority getting away with that.

And I couldn’t get enough of that gentle, lilting southern accent, mostly because Crossville has many northern transplants, especially from Michigan. Go figure. Must be on to something!

I knew there would be political and cultural differences, so I determined to keep eyes and ears open, and my mouth shut. In doing so, I met intelligent, thoughtful, kind, loving people who did not always share my (unspoken) point of view. The longer I remained there, I understood why. Their paradigm, their view of life, simply differed from mine. In fact, their paradigm made perfect sense, even though it led to different opinions from mine.

I learned that the coin of life has two sides!

Asking to Learn

How often do we half listen to another’s opinion while we mentally line up our “fool-proof” evidence to disprove them? We tend to converse to convince, rather than to communicate.

That can be challenging. While my mind shouts, “Are you crazy?” instead I ask, “Why do you believe that?” sincerely wanting to know, and not as a challenge. Then comes the shocker. Their reasons make perfect sense, based on their paradigm of life. And who’s to say my paradigm is more correct that theirs?

I concluded that another’s point of view is no better or worse than mine. For example, Republicans AND Democrats have good ideas to bring to the table. The problem is, neither is sitting at the table.

If I Could Command One Political Action…

…it would be that, by drawing lots, one Republican and one Democrat Senator, and likewise Representatives in the House, MUST have lunch alone together every day for three months. I believe they would discover they had more in common than either thought, on every level—personal, moral, and patriotic. They would learn to peer into each other’s paradigm and see the value in each.

The first step is civility, then knowing, followed by respecting, and finally, friendship. Now that would make our Legislative branch of government fire (as the kids today say, and “cool” as we Boomers would say.) Well, at least functioning without national polarization.

Saw it in Action

It was the best TV episode I saw this year. As you know, both Chris Cuomo and Tucker Carlson were let go by CNN and FOX, respectively. Say what you want about either of them, each represented liberal and conservative paradigms. But in this program, they sat together in what looked like Cuomo’s lanai and just talked, one guy to another. Amazingly, they were brutally honest.

Chris asked Tucker how he felt when FOX fired him. Tucker shrugged and said it didn’t really matter. He would still speak out. Chris admitted he’d been crushed when CNN let him go, and his wife prodded him to get a grip and make a living for his family. (He’s now on News Nation, which filmed this interview, if you could call it that.)

Then Chris asked why Tucker’s remarks were so nasty toward him when he’d been fired. After a while, Tucker admitted, “I guess I have a mean streak.”

Love or hate either, the conversation was real, raw, and I found, endearing. I could relate to both as very human people, like every one of us. It was wonderful!