Communicating with Adversaries

Lessons in managing public-speaking fearsFear of public speaking haunts countless people.  I’m one…a shy introvert whose career – oddly – has involved lecturing worldwide.  Presenting in a tense situation during my final Duke class taught me invaluable lessons.  That speech topic – racism and religion – evokes today’s headlines. (Duke Magazine article)

When Ted Kennedy Met Jerry Falwell.  When the lion of liberalism met the Moral Majority founder, some surprising, humorous, and positive things happened.  Insights on bridge building that could well inform today’s rancorous debates.  (Short op-ed)

Cultivating Civility: Can philosophical opposites get along?  Tired of polarizing rancor, food-fight media, and constant “gotcha” bickering?  Try befriending someone from the “other side” whose views differ greatly from your own.  You might learn lots.  We did.  (Short op-ed by Rusty Wright and Mark I. Pinsky)  Washington Examiner version.

The Odd Couple: Mark Pinsky and Rusty Wright on Steve Brown, Etc. nationally syndicated radio broadcast:  “Can people with differing religious and political views get along? Friends Mark Pinsky and Rusty Wright think so. …Steve and the gang chat with the veteran writers about their enduring, if unlikely, friendship and what we can learn from it.” Online video (41:24; scroll down page to access video) and audio (44:47).  Related article.

Cultivating Civility: Braver Angels aims at depolarization. It’s no secret that we live in a polarized world. Even if you ignore politics (good luck trying that), you’d also have to ignore entertainment news (exes or coworkers squabbling), sports news (rivals or teammates bickering), and social media (dislikes, trolls, goofs gone viral) to escape polarization. But one impressive group is trying to ratchet down fiery rhetoric by helping people have conversations. (Short op-ed)  Washington Examiner version. version

Your Money or Your Life! … or Your Wine?  An armed gunman at a Washington, DC, dinner threatened to start shooting unless guests gave him their money.  Ten minutes later, he had apologized and asked for a group hug.  What brought this dramatic change?  (Short op-ed)

Civil Discourse?  Tired of TV talking heads yelling at each other?  Exhausted/disgusted with debates and discussions that become food fights?  Lanny Davis, President Bill Clinton’s Special Counsel, has written an important book with sound advice for putting the “civil” back into “civil discourse.”  (Short op-ed)

Civil Discourse?  Tired of TV talking heads yelling at each other?  Exhausted/disgusted with debates and discussions that become food fights?  Consider inspiring stories of risk-takers who build bridges of understanding and communication across philosophical, political and religious lines.  Practical examples to help inform your own interaction with those with whom you differ.  (Probe radio series transcript.)

South African Apartheid Leader’s Apology for Racial Sins.  A startling example of contrition by Adriaan Vlok, former Law and Order Minister under South Africa’s apartheid regime.  Could it help inspire forgiveness and reconciliation in government, workplaces, neighborhoods and families?  (Short op-ed)

Forgiveness, Reconciliation and You.  Ever been cheated or mistreated?  Got any lingering grudges?  Any unclear air between you and a family member, neighbor or coworker?  Many doctors and social scientists extol the personal and societal benefits of forgiveness and reconciliation.  Some inspiring case studies.  (Probe radio series transcript.)

Leftist Jewish Journalist Survives Evangelical Beat.  What do you get when you take one leftist Jewish journalist, assign him to the evangelical Christian beat for major newspapers on both US coasts, sprinkle in some fiery sermons and politically conservative speeches, mix thoroughly, and bake with the heat of fiercely contested national elections?  Important lessons from a peculiar and unlikely journey. (Short op-ed)

Can Western-style education transform the Middle East?  King’s Academy, Jordan’s new prep school, emphasizes critical thinking over rote learning, teaching students not what to think but how to think.  Could it become a model to train a new generation of Middle Eastern leaders to shake hands with each other and the West?  (Short op-ed)

Ben-Hur remake: Revenge, redemption, inspiring backstory.  Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have remade the classic MGM film for a new generation … complete with a chariot race for the ages, plus plenty of action, romance and inspiration.  What’s behind this story, and why has it endured so long?  (Short op-ed)

Mr. Rogers movie: Want him as your neighbor?  Ever feel lonely?  Underappreciated?  Frightened?  Need a friend who’s kind?  Respectful?  Wise?  You might like Mr. Rogers.  Sony/Tristar’s new film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, depicts Fred Rogers’ friendship transforming a cynical journalist’s life.  (Short op-ed)

Freud’s Last Session movie: Freud and C.S. Lewis square off. Harvard psychiatrist Armand Nicholi taught a popular course on “The Question of God,” examining Sigmund Freud’s atheism and C.S. Lewis’ faith. Now a related Sony theatrical film imagines that the two met in London shortly before Freud’s death. The result is a fascinating historical drama probing their intellectual, emotional, psychological, and spiritual development. Anthony Hopkins is masterful as Freud. Matthew Goode plays Lewis. (Short op-ed)  Washington Examiner version.