My kids seventh birthday and her friends came over – all lots of fun, laughs and cake. Our grown-up conversation turned to the environment and it quite quickly became clear that I was going to have a big conversation with someone who was adamant with their ‘climate change is a hoax’ opinion.
If you ever have to tackle these conversations, they can be difficult to manage. The suredness of your understanding about the science, can quickly become lost in the emotion of the argument. The science is often disputed by the other, their own sources committed to memory. So, take a pause.
In this situation, I asked back very calmly, what is it about wanting to tackle climate change, and therefore improve the environment and reduce pollution, that is a problem? By using this technique, we both move away from the ‘contentious’ science, and move towards properly hearing the core problem and importantly, finding shared values.
In this conversation, the climate change agenda was seen as an opportunity to take away our rights to technology, food or travel. There was a strong pushback against being taxed to pay for environmental improvements; state taxation and automony was highly important for this person. They were annoyed by climate celebrities.
We agreed that pollution and waste were real issues. We agreed that the bolstering of local communities and food systems would be better long term to empower people. We discussed the potential for cryptocurrencies, utilised much like the Brixton Pound, ensuring that wealth remains within and grows the communities it serves directly. We found those shared values and opened a conversation, ranging from the taxation of robots to the realism of green growth in a capitalist system.
I think we both got something from the conversation. It is good always to find common ground with those who have opposing views. In fact I believe it is essential to have these conversations far more widely and freely than we already do. By finding the shared values we can start the redesign and transformation of our society collectively. Building an understanding and respectfully listening to different opinions is an important skill. For so many current agendas, from Black Lives Matter and modern Feminism to populist politics and culture wars, our shared values are the starting place.