Journey Together

By Stephen Cataldo, 14 June, 2020

Is it helpful to call someone "complicit"?
Will aggressive statements backfire or help?

Activists argue about how hard-hitting to be: Is reform not enough? Will stronger statements backfire? Do weaker statements betray the cause? If this were a sign for a cause you had not been convinced about, would it reach you?

Sometimes we get caught in those questions, but the problem with this sign isn't putting your heart into it: the problem is "othering" the people who haven't joined us yet.

What if how radical we are is not the central point — in either direction, doesn't matter more radical or less. Instead to speak truth without creating a backfire, you just have to be one with your audience, on the same journey with the people you hope to reach:

Changing "you" to "we" doesn't remove any fire from the sign; it's not weaker or more moderate — that has always been a distracting argument to whether we treat people we're talking with as if they are on the same journey, or if we act like we think we are better than them.

Imagine this sign was about an issue that you don't pay close attention to. If you're not vegan, what if it was a vegan sign? What does it mean if the author uses "you" or "we"?

Cognitive Politics explores framing and effective communications approaches for talking across partisan divides.