The friend didn’t offer any opposition to what I was saying and I got the impression we were in broad agreement.
But many months later I heard from somebody else that the friend actually saw things very differently and hadn’t questioned or challenged me because they didn’t want to offend me.
I wouldn’t have been offended in the slightest. If I were to be offended at all it would be because someone thinks I’m not capable of discussing a view that’s different from my own.
And I think that’s where the danger lies.
A healthy information diet
There is a real and present danger of our precious democracy dying of malnutrition because 'we, the people' don’t feed ourselves a sufficiently varied diet of information and experiences.
Fortunately, this is something that anyone can start addressing right now.
All it takes is to listen to some different people or read some different stuff. Stuff that challenges us. We can flip the channel, take in some different views, ask the people we know well some different questions. We can welcome opportunities to look at things in new ways without feeling threatened, and discuss difference without trying to win arguments.
So that’s my vote. Become an open-minded, thriving democracy of one – and spread the habit. Then there is at least some hope for us all.