When I engage in a deeply personal conversation, I move the person that I am speaking to. It is risky, because I know that being vulnerable and asking “why ?” is counter-cultural. Especially in the land of 10,000 lakes- it’s not Minnesota Nice! As a Jew, listening to a person without trying to interject with a witty response can feel unnatural. But when we presume to know a person’s concerns without asking them, and without hearing them, we miss the chance to walk with them and build off of our relationship. When we don’t share with them that this amendment is hurtful, personally, we are at risk of losing their vote.
I did not plan on spending the year after getting married on the phone with Minnesota voters talking about marriage and asking them personal questions. “What is your favorite verse in the bible?” We have learned that the best way to move a conflicted voter of faith is to talk about our shared values and religious justifications. “Not mixing religion and politics in our constitution” is a great talking point in our tool box, but we need to make it more personal with people.
I did not expect to carve out time to reflect with old friends and family about why marriage is important to them and why they got, or want to get, married? I came prepared to debate, but I found something much more basic, more human, and very Jewish. Asking questions:
Why did you get married? Do you know people who are gay or lesbian? Are they in a committed relationship? Do you think they want to get married for similar reasons that you and I do? Have you asked them about it?
The same approach is working to move voters on the voter restriction amendment. When was the first time you voted? Why is the right to vote so important to you?
What I fear most about the upcoming vote is that we may be closing the door on these conversations. We have 8 days until the election. Keeping asking why and keep the conversation open.
Track your conversations here: www.tinyurl.com/jca-powerful-conversations.
Come get on the phones and coach others through their conversations: http://jewishcommunityaction.org/events