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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Takeaways from Talking with Kamau Bell

Taylor Berry

Taylor Berry

Taylor Berry

Kamau Bell said a few interesting things at his talk. 1) When dealing with family members or friends you love who share drastically opposing ideas on topics, don’t expect to find commonality and understanding after one conversation. It takes more than one discussion to understand where a person stands on specific matters. Yet, just like success, differences can be bridged bit by bit. 2) On the other hand, Bell went on to say that missing Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas can be another effective way to get the people you care about to be aware of where you stand. Lines can be drawn so everyone is treated respectfully. Most importantly, you can be around your loved ones regardless of opposing beliefs.  At first, one might think not showing up to a family dinner is a drastic move, but Bell’s willingness to speak about his experiences was a way to help paint a real example. For instances, Kamau Bell went on to say that by removing himself from these environments it allowed for relatives and friends to initiate the first step to change relationship dynamics. This is crucial because it is often better for us to take a step back and allow for people to come to terms with the impact that their beliefs and actions may have on others, but especially loved ones. If individuals feel driven to change or mend any relationships then that can occur if someone has shown a willingness to change.

Simply by "extending an olive branch" it creates an opportunity that allows for people from different walks of life, with different perspectives, to sit down and have a conversation. Consensus should not be the goal. A middle ground can be met by both people if they want one another to be part of each other's life.

My challenge for you doesn’t have to be as momentous as skipping a family holiday dinner, but it can entail rethinking who you want to be around. The argument here is not about distancing oneself from individuals with different perspectives; it affirms that sometimes it is okay to take a break from friends and family who create a toxic environment for you. Rather, maybe it's best to take some time apart. After all, distance makes the heart grow fonder---and it forces people to reevaluate their interactions. Ultimately, this provides an opportunity for there to be more discussion to occur, which is never a bad idea.

May 31, 2018

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