I grew up in a fairly conservative home as a child. My view of the wider world around me was formed (for better or worse) by the political expressions and religious upbringing my parents gave my two younger siblings and me. While growing up, my thoughts and beliefs closely mirrored those of my parents.
As an adult, they have shifted and changed. I find myself much more in the middle rather than on a certain end of the political spectrum.
As I have gotten older, I have done a lot of reading and listening to podcasts by many different people with many different perspectives—some very different from the ideas and thoughts with which I was raised. The older I get, the more I have found that taking in diverse viewpoints to be a helpful practice to becoming a better learner and listener in the world...even if I may not agree with all I hear or read.
Fast forward to 2019.
We live in a time in which the political tension among people on both sides of the aisle is more tense and divisive than ever. Since the 2016 presidential election, it seems much more difficult to engage in respectful dialogue—you know, the kind where you may not agree with the other person but can still see and acknowledge their individual humanity.
I fear it will only get worse as we begin to prepare for another presidential election.
Regardless of where we all fall on hot-button topics, I think the most important thing is to acknowledge and see the dignity of all people, including those with whom you may passionately disagree. I know that mindset has proved such a helpful tool in my own life.
So how do we as American women have more nuanced conversations on politics in our world today? I think an excellent place to begin is with respect, listening, empathy, and healthy dialogue.
With all that in mind, I want to highlight and share three podcasts that I think set the right tone for the healthy, more nuanced types of political conversations that we as Americans would benefit from having.
One woman from the left. Another woman from the right. One place for nuanced, grace-filled political conversations. This podcast is a balanced approach to difficult, varied political topics. Sarah and Beth are women committed to honest, respectful, and nuanced conversations, which sadly is not something we see a lot of these days.
One may not necessarily agree with one or both hosts on a given topic, but what I find most life-giving about their conversations is that I am able to become a better listener. I can see a different perspective from my own.
NPR, Up First
As someone who doesn’t have a TV in my apartment, I find varied political podcasts are a helpful way for me to stay informed on what is going on in U.S. and world politics.
What I love best about this NPR podcast is that it's a 10-15 minute recap of the biggest news stories—from politics to pop culture—from the past 24-hours. I typically listen while I am grinding my morning coffee beans and brewing my first cup of java. Short, concise, and easy to digest, it gives the listener a sense of what is going on without being overwhelming.
Do you like creative storytelling with a purpose? Think of The Daily as a politics show meets This American Life. Produced five days a week, the 20-30 minute episodes feature different stories of what is happening in the world and stateside. Often this show has a much more creative, unique feel than the typical news segment you may find on one of the political TV stations.
What I like most about The Daily is that I often find myself getting a different perspective on a wide variety of political and social stories. Sometimes when we see a perspective different than our own, it offers a chance for us to grow in empathy and compassion and to develop better listening skills. While we may not always agree or understand people who hold different opinions from our own, there is always something we can learn from and respect in another person.
I know I’m not alone in wanting less division and meanness in our political rhetoric as a nation. At the end of the day, most Americans want respect and to be treated with dignity. These podcasts can help us avoid seeing each other as “other” when we disagree politically and, instead, to spend more time learning and listening.
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