I was at UDub (the University of Washington) one semester, housed on a floor with people from all walks of life: from the ex-Navy guy from Missou to the priest from Alaska. It was a very motley crew, to say the least, but one of the beautiful things I learned that summer was that talking about politics, religion and sex (the traditional bad boy trinity of dinner table conversation) was quite alright and no holds barred whenever we dined.
As I grew older, however, I realized that not many were like that group. Differences of opinion polarized a room and the forthcoming silences were pin-drop worthy.
I was living in Mexico City when two major political movements happened: one was the UNAM student strike of 1999 and the other was the presidential election of 2006, when the city was left partially paralyzed by the taking of Reforma Avenue. During those two events, I was thrust into a vortex of opinion that clashed so profusely that people have renounced longtime friendships. I listened to both sides of the story and watched as the anger flared and exploded with force.
I saw the same thing happen between Democrats and Republicans after the last US presidential election. And it reminded me of those commercials in between Saturday morning cartoons. The ones where two kids were talking about what color they liked best or what music they thought was cool. Neither thought the other was particularly impressive and decided that they hated the other. The moral of the story was that regardless of a difference of opinion, liking red doesn’t make a kid less cool than the kid who liked the color blue.
And when the elections ended, I felt like I was watching those two little kids fight.
I have great respect for Craig Ferguson and when he had Stephen Fry on, I knew it was going to be a good interview.
Fry is a loved figure in the UK and a veritable brain box. Apart from being an actor, writer, tv show host and producer, he is also quite outspoken about the topics that mean the most to him. I believe we can learn from him. How to openly discuss and give weight to our arguments, without ending in a crying rage or a punch in the nose.