When You Disagree, Don’t Be Disagreeable
The headline above was the second of four rules from the Obama Foundation Summit earlier this week in Chicago, which I was fortunate enough to attend.
In a little more detail via an event-related email from the former president, the rule is explained as following: “Real change comes through persuasion and openness to others. Have a point of view, be rooted in your experience, and don’t be afraid to share — but listen and be open, don’t be partisan. This isn’t about politics, it’s about our civic culture.”
While there were so many highlights of the Obama Foundation Summit and its celebration of community-building, this overall focus on respectful discourse was one of my top takeaways. Never has conversation — particularly between people who ostensibly have different points of view on various relevant topics — been more important than now. To this end, many of the sessions and speakers on Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago reiterated how important it is that we improve the social media systems that currently keep us from making connections outside of our relatively small circle of friends.
Although I was not able to attend the entire event due to another commitment, I left the Obama Foundation Summit completely inspired.
I am excited to apply that inspiration to even more of what we create at SXSW. President #44 has once again set a high bar for all of us to follow.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.
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