Physicists will tell you that opposites attract. But in our current peculiar reality, we are forced to question even the most seemingly obvious "facts" and rules.
In an earlier era, the coexistence of varying opinions and ideologies was recognized as a benefit in the creation of a system of checks and balances that would forestall the leaning of authority too far in one direction or the other. For centuries in America, opposing forces have been attracted to a mutual table to craft a structure that would best serve the whole.
Opposites these days, however, seem to be doing very little attracting and far more polarizing and repulsing. It is both refreshing and reassuring in such a moment to find an instance of collaboration and conciliation between strong proponents of differing outlooks.
A recent TED talk entitled "Free Yourself From Your Filter Bubbles" is just such an instance. Joan Blades, one of the founders of MoveOn.org, and John Gables, a former staff member of the administrations of both George Bush and Mitch McConnell, join together in this powerful talk to urge us to form relationships and engage in dialogue with those on opposite sides of the ideological aisle.
Both speakers have strong bona fides in the movement for transpartisan cooperation. In spite of her strong progressive politics, Blades lobbied for net neutrality with members of the Christian Coalition. More recently, she founded LivingRoomConversations.org, an organization that facilitates dialogue events in private homes across the country between members of opposing parties.
Gable is the founder of Allsides.com, a news outlet that curates stories on various sides of every issue, allowing readers to explore subjects from liberal, centrist, and conservative perspectives simultaneously. Subsequent to his career in Republican politics, Gable entered the tech field and was dismayed to find that our ever-growing access to information was not granting us greater objectivity, but was rather subjecting us to "filter bubbles" that were instead limiting our exposure and augmenting our divides. He developed AllSides.com to counter that trend.
Together, Blades and Gable have developed programs for schools and colleges to promote and facilitate conversation across the divide. In spite of the current trends toward polarization and divisive discourse, they provide a framework for reconciliation, and hope for a future of renewed civility and common good.
Watch "Free Yourself From Your Filter Bubbles" by clicking the image above or clicking here.