The past shows us how we should talk about politics. | 013/100

In 1965, James Baldwin faced down William F. Buckley at the Cambridge Union – two titans of literature, social policy and critical thinking. They had vastly different views, and the stage was set for a fiery debate.

When I watched this, I was stunned by the civility of the conversation – the depth of thought, the ends to understand each other’s viewpoints. What have we lost since 1965? This isn’t a criticism of either end of the political spectrum individually: elements of the left and right are equally guilty for stoking the fire.

But we’re all responsible, in some small way. Every time we dismiss someone as an idiot or call them a bigot without fully discussing what ideas they have, we make the problem worse.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

-James Baldwin

We must be able to talk to those we don’t agree with. We have to acknowledge that someone’s views being different from ours doesn’t automatically make them a fascist, or a communist.

It takes time and effort to have this kind of conversation. Maybe we should all strive to have them more often – before it’s too late.


  1. I agree. Today’s politics are ridiculously out of touch with the facts and with reality. We are bombarded with opinions and not the truth. Every TV station seems to have a bent view. How are we supposed to know what to believe? Plus, the media becomes so engrossed with the whole blame game. More important information is lost. Our politicians seem to be more interested in their public image than in the welfare of the people they serve. I think they forget that they serve the people; they are not elected for entertainment.


      1. The pendulum in its nature swings first one way, then the other, as the effects of the extreme become apparent. I don’t think we know how long the string is though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so true. We as Human Beings must learn to have conversations, however difficult the topics may be in a calm manner. Especially in today’s world whereby there seems to be a lack of the art of having conversations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by Sandie. I completely agree. These old debates provide a sense of (in my view) how we should talk to one another. By the way, I’m not viewing the 60s through rose-tinted glasses. I know it too, was an era of division and strife – but I’m worried we don’t have the conversational tools to bridge those gaps any more.

      Liked by 1 person

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