11.13.2008

Triply Villainous

Within one sentence, it was clear that this year's attendees at the
annual British American Project were overwhelmingly for Obama. With
the election less than 72 hours in the rearview mirror, the fervor was
particularly intense. In the spirit of open discourse, I introduced
myself as "the only person in West Philadelphia who voted for McCain,"
just to put out there that there was at least one person who didn't
vote for Obama. My remark got some hisses and some incredulous looks,
but also some pats on the back, both from fellow Republicans as well
as from Obamaniacs who appreciated my desire to ensure a balanced
discussion.

As the conference progressed, I also detected some anti-Christian and
anti-capitalist biases, which similarly threatened to shut down
healthy conversation. Again I outed myself - as much as I'm unashamed
of saying I'm a Republican, I'm even more openly Christian and
capitalist - and again I got jeers, albeit in good humor. But mission
accomplished: I may have represented the minority perspective on all
three fronts, but the dialogue was respectful and gracious.

I suppose I don't mind and may even relish being triply villainous. I
would hope that where I am in the majority on an issue, I would be
accepting of the perspective of the opposing side, not in the least
because I might actually learn from it. This past week, when I was
the one in the minority, I certainly learned from others' vocal
stances, and my hope is that others also learned from me. Isn't that
what these cross-cultural exchanges are all about?

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