This morning, I received an Email from The Coffee Party USA, asking if I would be interested in Coffee gatherings of other folks to talk about politics and the news of the day. The idea is to not get just like-minded people together, but to also get other perspectives into the mix as well. The implied hope is that people of deeply-divided perspectives can hold civil, yet spirited, discourse over some of the more nuclear topics in our barely civilized society. Sounds like a wonderful idea, until the notation that the Coffee Party is wanting a donation to be provided for such gatherings. To which I responded with a “Thanks for the invitation, but no thank you.”
Now, I am all for discussion among folks on topics that are heavily divisive. Discussion. Not debate. Discussion allows for you to hear and consider what is presented to you. Debate looks for winners and losers. Not much communication in all of that, in my eyes. However, I am non-enamored with the Coffee Party’s naked request for donations to make something happen that I can do with an Email to friends, a public note/event on Facebook, or creating a Meetup group. Here, I’ll show you….
I live up in the nether reaches of north Texas, so I’ll offer a potential location much further south of me – The Corner Bakery Cafe in Denton, Texas. Say…2pm on Sunday. That gives everyone the chance to hit church (if they do so), and allows folks to catch some lunch, if they prefer food elsewhere. The coffee in this place is awesome (as I found out this past weekend in Houston), so there is that. Interested? Well, let’s make it happen, right?
There….the cost of that…is nothing, at least to setup. You’ll need to purchase some food and/or a cup of coffee (or something else), so we are patronizing the business – but I don’t need to pay Coffee Party squat. We can talk about whatever….politics, news, and even religion. Its really that simple.
So, I am left wondering why people need a catalyst as inane as the Coffee Party to get something started? Or have we really become that closed of a society that we cannot find ways to communication and congregate with others – particularly if our viewpoints on the world are different? Or has technology made us slaves to our computer, tablet, and smart-phone screens that we just cannot pull ourselves away for more than the time it takes to make a cup of coffee or use the restroom?
Thoughts That are Barely Ideas
I noted above a potential, fictitious meeting place and time. I’ll change that slightly. You want to meet? The above sounds good? Say something. That way, I can make sure that I show. Deal?
Live too far away? Make your own meeting time/location, and say something publicly. Who gives a shit which platform you use? Just get it out there. And then be there. Be prepared to talk. Be equally prepared to listen. And be even more prepared to THINK about what you hear, even if its something you think may be detestable to you. Don’t like Communism? You opened the floor to politics, and this is what you got. Set your prejudices aside, and LISTEN. See if someone might present a perspective that you had not considered. And then consider it. One cautionary thought – leave your anger and irritation at home. The point is to learn from others, not get pissed off.
Maybe True Discourse Really is Dead
Gods, I hope not. Because if it is, then we can definitely shoot the cannon through the floor of the boat we call society. When we stop talking to one another, and we just talk through or past one another, I shudder to think what happens to our way of co-existence. I already see signs of this starting to happen with the rise of Right-wing Nationalism throughout the world. But I also a lot of people still checking on their neighbors, talking with those who feel lost or lonely, and trying to be as inclusive as they can with everyone. In a way, I feel like we are at a tipping point in how we treat others. We can tip to a side where “others” are those that we must destroy and keep in “their place” or we can we lean to a place where everyone is treated equally as a “person”. Which way will things go? I am not completely sure, but I am gripping the scale towards “equality” with my fingertips and pulling as hard as I can towards me.
This Fight Will be for the Younger Generations
Right now, the generation directly behind mine (I’m 54 right now) is doing most of the heavy lifting. The generation behind them will also be involved in getting things handled. I am not sure that either one will see the full benefits of what they are doing. Changing societal mindsets takes a lot of time and effort. I know I’ll likely never see the results, even in the smallest increments – but I still want to make effort to keep discourse at the forefront of making changes. Because I believe its the most vibrant and viable tool available. Just how those changes look over time…I have to leave that for younger generations to implement. I might not see eye-to-eye with them on a lot of things, but I have to trust that their judgment will bring them to the right place. Otherwise, how can you build trust in a younger generation, if you don’t give them a chance to be trusted?
So, while I do not feel like handing a donation to the Coffee Party to help foster conversations is a viable or appropriate method, especially when you can accomplish the same thing for free – I do feel that the idea of fostering communication gatherings is an excellent start. Find a way to get together with your friends – if you are not already doing this – and encourage them to invite others, even those that have different views. In the initial stage of a gathering, set the ground rules – no fighting, no insults, talk AND listen, and whatever else you feel needs to be said. Give it a shot…at the worst, you wind up having coffee with folks…