I spent some time today with a smart, accomplished and completely charming student who is politically progressive. A very useful and timely question was posed, “what do you do when you have to work with someone who is irreconciably opposed to you in ideological terms?”
The response? The words that have launched a thousand consciousness raising sessions: Seek consensus. Try to educate them. Appeal to their sense of community. A sophisticated version of asking, why we all can’t just get along.
There was no understanding that some opponents do not want their consciousness raised. They believe that they are 100% right and believe that passionately.
The unwitting arrogance that underscores the belief that others are waiting for us to bestow our enlightenment upon them.
Ward politics and smoke filled back rooms weren’t completely devoid of wisdom.
Since walking away isn’t always possible, what’s next? There is a time to work toward consensus. There are other times when we have to knock heads, horse trade, or make unpalatable alliances. Sometimes we are called to go down with the ship. In Michael Gruber’s novel The Good Son, a character notes that most major government errors could be avoided if someone were willing to sacrifice a career.
Don’t let the enemy gain strength while you dither.
Now we’re talking.