CoastLine: After Election Season, Resolving Conflict at the Thanksgiving Table
Did you vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein?
Are you pro-life or pro-choice?
How do you feel about immigration? Do you refer to people living in the United States illegally as illegal aliens or people who are undocumented?
Do you think the United States should close its borders to refugees from war-torn parts of the world to keep its own citizens safe, or do you believe the country should more widely share its legacy of welcoming the poor and the oppressed to its shores?
Where do you stand on HB2? Is it a necessary state statute that makes our government more consistent and public restrooms safer or is it an attack on the LGBT community?
But here’s the important question: If you heard another person answer all of those questions in exactly the opposite way that you answered them, what labels would you ascribe to that person? Would you even engage in a conversation with them? And more importantly, if you did, would you really be listening? Really? And if you would not or could not maintain a genuine openness, would you expect your elected leaders to do it?
In this time of polarization and protests around the country over the presidential election, government bodies of all varieties work to enact policy through majorities rather than negotiation. For all those reasons, we’re talking with an expert on conflict resolution.
Remonda Kleinberg is a Professor of International Politics and International Law at the University of North Carolina - Wilmington. She is also the Director of the Graduate Program in Conflict Management and Resolution at UNCW.