Across The Great Divide
It's the story core podcast from NPR. Dr I'm Jasmine Morris. The story core archive is a treasure trove of interviews between loved ones. Our friends know each other well but in the spirit of sharing challenging aging conversations. Today you'll hear something a little different this week. We'll be listening in on conversations between strangers and these strangers don't necessarily agree on things literally. I thought it was important to have a conversation with somebody who thinks differently. The night do is there one thing that you respect about the way that I see. The world know fairness we can have different political beliefs believes but we can still discuss issues in a reasonable manner and go away with some understanding of why the other person you're talking l.. Continue believes the way he does. We were not that far. Apart in our overall beliefs. We tend to agree more than we disagree. It was important for me to meet somebody who really didn't have horns and a tail. Do not be so quick to form opinions seek to understand. It's the best way to love and love. Love is the only thing that's going to help associate all the voices you just heard were recorded as part of story cores one small step initiative. It's a little little bit of an experiment but it's an effort to bring together Americans with different political views not to argue about issues but to get to know one another as human beings. You're stacey todd director of the one small step initiative the preparation for a one. Small step interview is a little bit more involved than a traditional story core interview because we're bringing strangers together so yeah there is a questionnaire in it's just a brief survey about your background and a little bit about your beliefs and then we used. I used that to match you up with somebody. WHO's different than you in who has different beliefs than you? Here's one small step. Participants Cassandra Adams and David Wilson who each answered answered those survey questions from early on in their conversation. Let me ask you this when you read my bio What did you think and please be As honest as you feel comfortable because nothing Bobby so the first part. My mind kicked him to stereotype. Simpson probably dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. Second part was intriguing because you said something along the lines of an open mind at. Ah this will be interesting when I read your bio. I just thought you were white man. Come here and remember what was so interesting to me is that I don't think I have to admit it and I appreciate you receiving and that and allowing me to admit my stereotype because when you walked in the door and you stood up and introduce myself. These conversations take a lot of courage. The sometimes hard sometimes awkward but for the most part they inspire hope because again. We're not asking people to talk about politics. Some of the questions participants might ask each other are. How did your childhood shape your view of the world today or when you think about the future what are you most scared of and a lot of CARE is taken to make sure participants have a meaningful experience like the list of ground rules that are placed on the table before the interview starts here Stacey again then some examples of the ground rules are to share the time equally and not to interrupt each other not to use derogatory language and I think one of the biggest ones is not to make any assumptions? And it's important that the participants understand that. They're not there to try to persuade. They're harder to their side. We're GONNA listen into one of these conversations now. Hi Okay. My name is Nicole Watkins. I'm thirty four years old and today is July thirtieth twenty nineteen and I am in Birmingham Alabama. And I am Austin. sullen trump. Also thirty four years old. Gotcha you WANNA take the first question. Sure she goes yeah. We'll see how this goes Nicole in Austin. We're one of the first pairs of strangers to try this with us. They came to story core to talk about healthcare something. That's very personal for both of them. Do you feel like because as you. You do have a medical condition that you've dealt with your entire life that when people talk to you that they talk differently to you as results absolutely. I'm below the knee amputee. Not On my right side born with Spina Bifida I just spent last week at a conference in DC. And I had to be in a wheelchair for part of it and Folks I had talked to on the first day of the conference is treated me like a two year old in the wheelchair even though they had met me the day before I was the same human right an example of how I think my personal belief structure sure differs from the perception of my belief structure. Right my wife and I for years. led youth group in our church. So we every year we would participate in the march for life. And because I would be outward with this idea that I'd like to see a world where abortion is no longer an option that because because of that bill that one stance I'm now like somehow radical evangelical avid trump supporter. I see and it's like the thing that drives. It's my belief. There is also the same thing that drives my belief that we should take care of the abandoned refugee at the border that we should take care of the poor and sick in our own neighborhoods. But that's that's not the public persona of what somebody who goes to DC to march for that is. That's actually exactly why I wanted to do this. And I will fully admit in this conversation conversation to having had that bias before right and it's also worth mentioning full disclosure. Please don't run out of the room. I worked for planned parenthood anymore. Well we have a policy against that. Gets my blood going a little bit. None of us are simple enough to be just thrown in a bucket. Like we're we're all too too complicated for that. I I mean a lot of people in my work who come to me. And they're crying because they feel ashamed and they feel sad and they've been ostracized. And that's just heartbreaking to me. That's not that's not a fair way to treat someone that you don't agree with. I think we can all do a better job of of realizing the nuance and nuance on number sticker. I think that it and the end result of of having these conversations needs to be that because people are so many things talking about earlier to being disabled as a part of my identity. But it's a part right and it it's sort of you know going to the march for life is a part of your identity is not the whole thing right like there is more to you than that you are a father you are husband. Who are all these things and I think if we we can remember that when we have those conversations with each other I think we'll get somewhere That's Nicole Watkins in Austin sullen trump in Birmingham Alabama next. We'll hear from two women who might be different in a lot of ways but also found connection during their story or interview. Stay with us Hi this is Dave. I say founder of story story core support for NPR and the following message come from Subaru celebrating. Their Twelfth Annual Subaru share the love event now through January second for every new Subaru Abreu purchased or leased during the event Subaru will donate two hundred fifty dollars to your choice of charities like the ASPCA make a wish meals on wheels or the National Park Foundation action to learn more go to Subaru dot com slash share. Love it's what makes Subaru Subaru. NPR's code switch is a podcast about race in America. That's about all of us are histories. Power represented the ways we've worked together and worked against each other. You'll learn. You might get mad. You'll definitely laugh but don't take my word for it just listened to NPR's code switch Welcome back another important in part of the one. Small step process is not just focusing on people's differences but also finding similarities before the people who are participating even sit down together again story core one small step director stacy. Todd ideally we find people who have something in common it makes the first five or ten minutes. It's a lot more comfortable if they can bond over a shared passion or shared experience. One of the things that we've learned is to avoid pairing people full strictly based on identity. That's not what we're looking for. Basically no one is paired based on differences in race gender or sexuality. We wouldn't want someone to have to defend their humanity. And so next willison in on a conversation between Jessica Vittorio and Katie Hayes Strangers who repaired by story court because they shared Christian beliefs. But we're opposite politically. I'm curious about your experience of voting differently from your parents. I have the same experience in the opposite direction and I just want to know how that is for. y'All I always joke that I tried to raise them right and I just don't know how unfortunately yeah I think the position we take towards it now generally is just not to talk about it. Because I don't know that we can really talk about it without getting upset at each other. Do y'all have success and talking about it. You know we really don't my relationship with my parents. took a serious hit in. The last election are sources of information are so different. Yeah so that made it hard all along but the last presidential election is when it just came undone. I'm sad. My job is bringing people together and reconciliation in Jesus name name and I haven't managed to make that a reality in my own family of origin. Part of it is they'll be like this group of people is is ignorant or uneducated. That's really where breaks down. and where inevitably it gets a little too emotional. It's not even about the issue it's about like who are you saying I am as a person person and that's what I think is frustrating about it because most of the issues are federal issues right. So they're not things that have a daily impact on any of our lives and ninety like real tangible way. You're channeling my dad. Because I think my dad would say that to me. This is not about you. It's not personal. This doesn't defector day to day and I would say yes. It does every day because I'm raising my kids in a world where climate change has already ravaged the planet to the point that I don't know if we can get back yeah. I don't know how anybody's politics doesn't feel personal way. You said is interesting because I think my parents and my boyfriend a friend it really emotional specially start talking about climate change and things like that. I do think there's an inherent difference of approach because alive times I think about policy. I think about it from an economics perspective so it doesn't really feel personal but in your mind you're dealing with humans mm-hmm and that's the way that you're approaching mind. We're dealing with numbers. Yes so it causes us to have very different reactions to things and maybe that has something to do with what you call your vocational calling you to be an attorney to be a pastor. I wish my conversations with my dad go as well as this one and I m hopeful that lots and lots of people that vote differently from our thinking about it as hard as you are. I do think it's easier bridge the gap with a stranger slash new a friend than it is someone that you have a really intense emotional connection with already so thankful that I can hopefully take some of this stuff and bring it to those conversations slowly. I'm not going to jump jump into. Yeah I'm probably not going to come down on the way home. That's Jessica Vittorio and Katie Hayes in Dallas Texas So what happens when the recording equipment is turned off and everyone goes home again. Stacey todd very often they keep in touch people exchange email addresses after the appointment is over in feel like. They've made a friend in somebody that they never would have expected to. But this isn't going to solve everybody's problems in that's why we're calling at one small L. Step because that is exactly what it is. It's a tiny step in the right direction. And that's all we can hope for over the the past year we've learned a ton about these difficult conversations most of all we've learned that even if they're hard the matter here story co founder. Dave I say speaking about the project jacked. The dream is to convince the country that it's our patriotic duty to see the humanity and people we disagree with it's going to be the biggest hardest most important thing we've we've ever tried to do but given the stakes in the country we're going to give it everything we've got because the democracy can't survive in swamp mutual contempt. We think of this a little bit as a light seeping into pitch dark room. Helping our eyes adjust so he could begin to see one another again. If you WANNA be part of this new initiative please sign up up at take one small step dot org or pick up the APP and record a friend or neighbor whose views are different from yours. Just remember those ground rules. Also if you live in the the Birmingham Alabama area come to the Alice Stephen Center on February seventh for a one small step event hosted by WB GEM NPR and story. or You you can get more INFO at WBZ Dot Org this episode was produced by Michelle Little. Sylvia Lubo in Katie. Brooke edited by me. Jasmine Morris our technical director is Jarrett. Floyd our production assistant is eleanor. Vasily Not Sumi. Soccer is our fact checker and special. Thanks to Dan Collison Facilitator mcshea Kohl. Wbz Am and W. G. Vu. Join US on next week's episode with more difficult conversations as two people share their differing views on guns ans- wherever I go with is gathering people. Now I am so conscious could be a gunman in the midst and wherever my weapon is permitted. I take it. I don't want to church. I don't want any guns in schools. Why this is the story core podcast from NPR Thanks for listening Story Cores One. Small step is supported. The fetzer institute as part of its work to strengthen democracy.