If you’ve never played Mad Gab before, you are given a phrase of words that don’t make any sense at first and you must figure out what you are actually saying aloud to solve the phrase. Here’s an example: “Eye Mull of Mush Sheen”. If you read it aloud multiple times you will eventually hear yourself saying “I’m a love machine”. It’s a fun game that I have become very good at, if I do say so myself. But for the sake of the country, I will begrudgingly let you in on the secret to my success. The trick with Mad Gab is that if you spend too much time looking at the words with your preconceived notions, it will take you longer to figure out what it is really saying. Instead, it is much easier to figure out if you listen to the phrase as you or others repeat it aloud.
It seems to me that there couldn’t be a more appropriate mindset to adopt for the divided state we find ourselves in in America today. Democrats are scared, angry, and mortified that so many Americans would decide Trump was better than Hillary. Republicans are also quite baffled that so many would think Hillary was a better choice. And all of us in-betweeners are still scratching our heads that somehow these two were the best options available in the whole country.
The bottom line is, whether we like it or not, what’s done is done. The next step is finding a way to overcome our differences so that we can learn how to see each other as people again, instead of just Republican, Democrat, NeverTrump, etc.
The best way to do this is to listen to each other. But it’s more than just listening that is needed. We need to listen to the voices we normally avoid so that we can better understand their point of view, whether it’s a friend, relative, neighbor, or a co-worker you’ve been avoiding on Facebook. Now is the time to branch out of your safe zone. If you are a Republican who watches Bill O’Reilly, you might consider watching a couple episodes of Chris Matthews. If you are a Democrat who watches Rachel Maddow, you might try tuning in to Hannity. I know it can be almost unbearable to hear these opposing voices, but I do think it is necessary, simply because if you don’t understand their reasons, how can you honestly say you are opposed to them? That is my new motto this year.
Now I know what you’re thinking… “Dan, I just can’t do it. Chris Matthews is impossible to watch.” Or perhaps, “Sorry, but Hannity makes my eyes bleed.” I hear ya. But let’s try something different this year. Let’s take a page from Mad Gab, and just listen to what they are saying without focusing on who it is that is saying it. Remove your preconceived notions about who they are, and try to hear their concerns. Do this with your friends and family as well. Try to listen objectively, so that you can better understand how to address their concerns from your point of view.
Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” So extend the olive branch. And then invite them over for a game of Mad Gab, so you can conquer them with the insider knowledge you now have.