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A political odd couple's advice on finding common ground

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We discovered a mutual sense that there is something fundamentally wrong about the winner-take-all philosophy that seems to dominate American life and politics. Both of us felt that there isn't enough discussion in American society about the common good; that collaboration, the idea of working toward mutual goals despite differences of opinion, is almost unheard of; that most politics and policy debate is mean-spirited and intolerant (which was the chief reason we were guarded at first about opening up to each other).

Much as conservative William F. Buckley and liberal John Kenneth Galbraith famously became friends years before us, we've cautiously become friends and collaborators - collaborators not just on videogame policy, but also on issues such as the environment, race, and gender.

Our friends and colleagues seem unable to imagine how we tolerate each other's widely differing social and political values.

Jack, for example, is opposed to abortion while Gene believes that a woman should have the right to choose. But Jack's faith-based perspective on the issue doesn't preclude him from constructive conversation aimed at understanding Gene, whoJack has learned, through listening, is a person of goodwill. In carefully listening to each other we are forced to realize we have neither absolute nor complete answers and that other perspectives have validity. Even if we profoundly disagree on abortion, it doesn't preclude us from having a dialogue on this and other issues that may be as important or more important. Absolutist attitudes preclude democratic interaction.

We have different heroes. One of Jack's favorite figures in American history is the editor and anti-communist Whittaker Chambers.

At first, gene couldn't believe someone could consider him a hero. After hearing Jack talk about him, and doing some research on his own, Gene realized that Chambers was a much more interesting and complex figure than he had first thought. Gene's appreciation of Jack's heroes not only makes Jack more human, but brings into view what may be heroic about both Chambers and Jack.

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