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  • Writer's pictureSara Sharpe

Letter 2: Might as well start where we are

Dear Friend:

At this point, it would seem, we agree on very little, at least within the political sphere. I can’t get to you, way over there on your side of the divide, because there are so many issues between us: issues having to do with race, immigration, abortion, gun control, election security, etc. I say Black Lives Matter, you say Blue Lives Matter. You are pro-life, I am pro-choice. I want more gun control you want less, and so on. Right?

So. Let’s start with some hardcore honesty. Let’s start by acknowledging the fact that you are convinced (and I get that you absolutely are) that my beliefs bring great harm to great numbers of people (not to mention the unborn). Let’s start by also acknowledging the fact that I am convinced (and really, I absolutely am) that your beliefs bring great harm to great numbers of people. Can we also acknowledge that our fear for those in harm’s way makes us feel desperate? And that, in our desperation, we’ve managed to convince ourselves that half the country is morally deficient; that civil dialogue is waste of time; and that compromise is tantamount to failure? Can we also cop to feelings of outright hatred, disgust, and contempt for our fellow citizens at times?

Might as well start where we are.

I’m convinced it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a chasm between us, but I believe we can close the gap; I believe we can find our way back to one another. We may never be besties, but we can at least come to understand one another better. We can at least try.

When we meet again one day, and I hope we do, let’s meet as friends. Let’s set a goal, you and me, of listening to and trying to understand one another, even if we never agree about things like mask mandates, abortion, presidential candidates etc.

Will it help if I promise not to be a judgmental asshole? Will it help to know that I will “seek first to understand,” as they say? That if, unlike me, you fear the election was stolen, refused (or at least hesitated) to get the vaccine, and don’t believe systemic racism is a thing (that’s a tough one for me, I confess), I am still willing to listen to you anyway, deeply and kindly? That I am willing to make every attempt to understand your beliefs even if I disagree with them? That I believe, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you want what’s best for your children and your fellow Americans, as do I, and that nothing in all my years of talking with folks who feel differently than I do leads me to believe otherwise? (Obviously there are exceptions, but not as many as one might think.)

When we meet again, and I hope we do, we’ll have to do things differently than we did before. I’d like to someday reopen the lines of communication, and I’m serious about that - but with new ground rules, this time - new priorities. In the past, we prioritized being heard. We prioritized being right. We prioritized winning the argument, making the irrefutable point, having the last word.

No more. Do you hear me? No more. This is my commitment to you.

From here on out, I’m going to prioritize listening and asking questions. My goal will be to understand where you’re coming from – like, for real. I want to be more interested in understanding than in being understood. I want to ask questions as opposed to beating you about the head and shoulders with my “rightness” and your “wrongness.” I want to be curious as opposed to judgmental, as Ted Lasso would say. (Have you seen that show? We can all agree that’s a great show, and see? Already we’re doing better!) I want to give you my take on things, but never at the expense of your take on things.

Wild hope,


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2 comentarios

17 oct 2023

Interesting idea but I fear that it's too late for this. The trumpets are almost certain to take both houses of congress, most state legislatures and the White house in little more than a year.

The chance that they won't demand their pound if fresh from those of us who tried to help them stay safe and get vaccinated is virtually nil.

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Sara Sharpe
Sara Sharpe
2 days ago
Contestando a

I hear you. I've stubbornly decided to keep writing even if it's too late in some very real ways!

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