I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening) | Sarah Stewart Holland

Summary of: I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations
By: Sarah Stewart Holland


In a time when political conversations are often avoided, ‘I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations’ by Sarah Stewart Holland urges us to speak openly about politics. This book teaches us the importance of discussing and debating political issues to break the echo chambers that only worsen the divide between opposing viewpoints. By engaging in civil, respectful conversations, we can foster creative solutions for America’s problems. The book delves into historical perspectives, the role of partisanship in political discourse, the importance of personal values in decision-making, and the need for grace in our interactions with others. Not only will this summary provide an overview of the key themes, but it will also show you how to cultivate a more open-minded approach to political discussions.

The Necessity of Civil Political Discourse

Americans need to reclaim political discussions that were once at the core of the nation’s founding. Historians suggest that open debates and the free exchange of ideas were instrumental in the country’s creation. Refraining from discussing politics doesn’t help resolve conflicts; instead, it creates echo chambers where people only talk to those who share their views. This causes polarization, leading to the breakdown of society. Americans must learn how to engage in civil political discourse, even if they disagree. Only through a dialogue based on faith and values can solutions be found to fix the country’s problems.

Pantsuit Politics: A Podcast Spreading Political Tolerance

In today’s political climate, tribal attitudes and confirmation bias have created a competition so toxic that people identify more strongly with their own party and feel more hostile toward members of another party. That’s why Beth Silvers and Sarah Holland, former lawyers from Kentucky started a podcast, Pantsuit Politics, where they present differing opinions with respect and without seeking popularity. They develop “primers,” exploring the history of particular issues, to examine each topic more directly and remove partisan jerseys. They realized how wrong their beliefs about welfare were once they explored its history and agreed that all Americans should have a basic standard of living with state and federal government involvement. Overall, society needs to embrace similarities instead of differences and accept political parties’ beliefs verbatim.

Politicians and Personal Beliefs

Be a critical thinker when it comes to identifying your values-based political stances.

As an active member of society, it is essential to understand the importance of shaping our political views. However, blindly following influential political figures cannot guarantee that your personal values will align with the policies and actions of these individuals. The first step towards accurate representation in the political sphere is to critically evaluate one’s beliefs and values.

According to the authors of the book, our values should act as the foundation for political beliefs rather than blindly following a politician. Examining health care policy, two co-hosts of a podcast who, despite their political affiliations, found themselves agreeing that access to affordable, quality healthcare must be part of the US healthcare system. They used their experiences to empathise and identify issues before categorising them as good or bad on a straight-line political spectrum.

Our personal values can guide us to identify with specific political parties, policy positions and even test our candidates, but only after understanding what our beliefs truly are. When soul-searching for our values, it is crucial to consider factors like our ethics, moral and religious beliefs. Rather than following a party’s positions on a vast array of issues, we should make conscious decisions that align with our values.

Identifying our beliefs does not always mean that we have to agree with every decision made by political entities, it is instead an opportunity to constructively critique and influence. This process allows healthy discussions; similar to the one that the podcast co-hosts had about access to healthcare.

Being a fan of a particular political entity is a positive thing, but it is also vital to engage in critical thinking when it comes to identifying our values-based political stances. Doing so ensures coherence between our beliefs and policy choices.

Putting Politics in its Place

Americans blame politics for public institutions’ failures, but Silvers and Holland remind us that individuals have the power to effect change in their communities. Citizens relinquish agency to the government, hindering progress and seeing it as the only solution. The book urges readers to examine their values and step up to make a difference in their schools, churches, companies, and communities. Instead of relying solely on the government, individuals must take responsibility and act to improve these institutions. Politics should not be the center of our lives; our values should guide us towards building a better society.

Conversing with Grace

Knowing and showing respect for others’ opinions is the first step in productive discussions. Engaging in an election is not simply about winning or losing a seat – it is about recognizing the value of one’s own voice and participation. This is where the concept of grace comes into play, as it teaches us to be kind and respectful towards all people, even those whose values differ from our own. Regardless of our beliefs, diversity remains the backbone of our society. Cynicism and negativity have no place in productive conversations. That is why we should approach our fellow citizens with grace even when we disagree with them.

Transformative Conversations

To have transformative conversations, approach the other person’s point of view with genuine curiosity, free of assumptions. The process involves examining an issue from both perspectives, which can help to understand your own point of view more fully. Co-hosts Holland and Silvers of a podcast realized that they knew little about international trade, although they each held party-line views of it. Instead of discussing the issue with scant actual information, the pair began the process of researching trade, which expanded their understanding of the subject, exposed their own reasoning errors, and gave each woman a glimpse through the other person’s lens.

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