Bob Rack is the Co-Founder of Beyond Civility and the retired Chief Circuit Mediator at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
In an April podcast of Krista Tippett’s On Being, David Blankenhorn, Founder and President of the Institute for American Values and Jonathan Rauch, a scholar at Brookings Institute and Vice-President of the Indepdent Gay Forum, discuss how they found common ground on the issue of gay marriage.
As they tell the story, at a public event David insulted Jonathan, whom he didn’t know at the time, and called afterward to apologize. Thus began a conversation that continued far beyond what either of them could have imagined.
The program opens with this snippet.
Blankenhorn: “We call what did ‘achieving disagreement.’ It’s easy to have a false disagreement–I can just tell you’re a bad person and you’re stupid. But to actually know where we disagree requires effort from you and from me. We have to have a relationship to be able to do that.”
“I’ll tell you, in today’s world of hyper polarization, and the sheer idiocy that is our public debate, the heart just cries out for this kind of serious effort to achieve disagreement.”
Rauch goes on to say…
“I believe there is an element of patriotism about this. And I saw in you [addressing Blankenhorn] someone who was willing to say being right is not as important as making a pact with my fellow Americans on the other side so that we can live together.”
One wonders if their new friendship was the foundation of their commitment to this remarkable dialogue, or the result of it. Maybe both?
Listen to On Being’s The Future of Marriage to hear them model a civil conversation.