Civil Discourse Requires Work; On Finding (Un)Common Ground

Aimee Whetstine might call it an act of God. I think of it more as serendipity. Whatever it was, something brought us together that morning at BlogHer ’12 in New York City, facing off across from each other at the conference’s annual “speed date” meet and greet.

Welcome to BlogHer ’12

I had already met a host of food bloggers, a pack of DIY bloggers, and a few marketers trying to convince me why their products would be a great fit for my blog. But, since I am not much of a cook, can’t sew for the life of me, and don’t take ads on my personal blog,  there wasn’t much of a love connection.

And then I met Aimee.

She was that perfect mix of southern graciousness and steel magnolia with sparkling eyes and a ready smile. When I asked her why she looked familiar, she said, almost reluctantly, “I wrote that Chick-fil-A post.”

Oops. Well, there goes a love connection.

If there is anyway to find one blue state/red state lightening rod issue the Chick-fil-A bro-ha just might be it. When the company’s founder publicly denounced the notion of marriage equality, I asked readers of my weekly Palo Alto Patch column to consider if they wanted to support his homophobic ideology with their hard earned dollars.

Aimee demurred. With her usual wit and good sense, she argued in her BlogHer post,  boycotting Chick-fil-A, or any company that doesn’t align with your personal politics, was not good for the economy and kind of silly too.

“I don’t hate gay people. I don’t believe the Cathy family and their franchisees hate gay people. I don’t plan to stop eating at Chick-fil-A anytime soon. I understand if your convictions differ. You can stop eating there if you want.

You’ll be missing out on some mighty fine chicken if you do.”

I told her I couldn’t disagree more and then we had that rare thing, a meaningful civil discourse illuminating our different points of view. We didn’t agree on much, but we did agree on one thing, this country needs more thoughtful, respectful debate on issues that  matter.

So, here we are, working together to find common ground.  We’re launching a neutral, shared website called Finding (Un)Common Ground.

We’ll regularly post our views on hot topics and invite you to dialogue and share your thoughts. All comments and perspectives are welcomed, provided they are expressed within the bounds of civility.

Last week we posted about the events in Libya and Egypt. This week we are pondering freedom of speech. Next week? You can be sure the issue will be dicey. We hope you’ll visit, share, and comment.

Civil discourse must be achieved if we are to find understanding and solutions within the issues that divide us and our country.

Please join the dialogue at Finding (Un)Common Ground.

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