A Word In Edgewise: Playing Well with Others

By E.B. Boatner April 18, 2013

Categories: Causes, Our Affairs

I usually finish a book before discussing it, but Gilles Herrada’s The Missing Myth: A New Version of Same-Sex Love is an exception. His introduction offers insights into avoiding adversarial barriers to meaningful discussion, which I apply here to same-sex marriage.

While there will be no dialogue between perceived “abominations” and “benighted bigots,” we hinder our own side with what Herrada calls “monological,” thinking. He posits a person views any issue through his singular perspective and context as well as through the lens of the “collective subjective perspective,” defined as the agreed perspective of the individual’s community.

In short, everyone views the world–and a given issue in particular–from his or her personal upbringing, context in time and place, and the prevailing views of their community on that subject. These factors may cause people with the same ultimate goals to build walls when with effort on both sides they could open doors. Congruency of consensus requires making an effort to develop empathetic thinking, stresses Herrada, putting oneself in the other’s place to the best of one’s ability–which becomes increasingly difficult the further removed the other’s position is from one’s own.

In this column I use my personal opinions to raise questions and provide springboards for further thought and discussion among the GLBT community and allies. A hot topic today is same-sex marriage, to which I have devoted a number of “Edgewise” pieces.

Any opinions stated are my own, not the magazine’s; my hope is to draw those that agree and those that differ to share opinions. While I am able to offer my views to others, I cannot change or refine my own position without the input of those who disagree and whose opinions would add to and enrich the discussion.

Beyond repealing DOMA and making marriage available to all consenting adults, I further believe that all weddings should be state-licensed civil unions, and that any religious ceremonies should be celebrated afterwards at the church/mosque/synagogue/etc., if the couple so chooses and if that religious institution agrees to perform the ceremony.

“Being a pluralistic thinker,” states Herrada, “requires the willingness to slide into the first person perspective of someone regardless of our point of view. This is neither voodoo nor sainthood, it is intellectual rigor.”

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