My mom and one of her best friends sat at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Many a lazy summer day along our cabin's lake shore they debated with vigor the rightness of their clashing political views.
And then they grilled, baked Finnish bread, took a sauna and traded stories about their children and, later, grandchildren.
During our last campaign season, a boat regularly sped down our lake each evening with flags trumpeting their views. The intrusion, the pushiness of it and, yes, the tingle of fear I felt when I saw it, stand in contrast to the important debate that happens when Americans of differing views come together in conversation.
The best plans and ideas stream from diversity, as we are finally learning. Pushing an opinion or plan on people has never worked. People can't be forced. But sharing ideas over a table, on the court or in the stands, we may have a tingle — not of fear, but of revelation. That the best of my idea and the best of your idea may create a completely new beautiful beast of policy, planning or candidacy.
Several years ago, I heard the political adviser David Gergen speak. He talked about a concern he had that politicians in Washington were no longer recreating together, sharing a meal or drink after a debate or otherwise interacting after work hours. The chance to have differing ideas expressed in a relaxed setting, when guards are down and cameras and microphones are off has been lost.
We are so lucky in our state to have endless places to explore — to walk, bike, hike, boat and paddle. Settings that can lead to those casual conversations that might loosen your rigid ideas about right and wrong, or your neighbor's ideas about wrong and right. The environment can support us in understanding the underpinnings of disagreement. The place might lead your mind to wander to a new view or to incorporate that oh-so-irritating political opinion of your neighbor.
Our state is so blessed with water, clear and cool. But at sunrise and sunset, the times of possibility, colored: reds, pinks, blues, purples. Each day on the water bringing new vistas and views, mixing with that day's clouds, winds and weather.
Let our ideas mix, not stratify; meld and mellow into policy and practice that keep us healthy and happy; that strengthen our communities, our country and, yes, our lakeshores.
Our beautiful minds, so vast and creative, work best when relaxed and wandering into revelation. Work even better when wandering with others.
Kris Potter lives in Minneapolis.