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The pope, a judge, and a bunch of counter-counter-revolutionaries walk into a bar….

By Ralph Benko. Reprinted from Huffington Post.

I’ve written here before about the Trump Revolution, the progressive counter-revolution, and the secret counter-counter-revolutionaries (like me) who hold that it is more valuable for both sides to be listening to, rather than shouting at, one another. Call it Occupy Our Minds.

We’re the guerrilla force hiding out in the wilderness in obscure but places like livingroomconversations.org, allsides.com, and hifromtheotherside.comThe counter-counter-revolutionary ethic is summed here as “Not understanding each other has led to dehumanizing others in a way that is detrimental to our society as a whole. This has led to our increased polarization and political gridlock. … When people of all walks of life begin to care about one another, they can begin working together to solve the wicked problems of our time.”

There’s been a media blackout on us, with a few rays of sunshine poking through The Huffington Post and here and there. But wait.

Stop the presses! 

This just in! 

Extra! Extra! 

We are not alone!

Imagine our shock to learn that Pope Francis was publicly overheard singing from our Hymnal! Headlined Stop hurling insults and listen, Pope Francis tells politicians, Reuters reported that:

Politicians should lower the volume of their debates and stop insulting each other, Pope Francis said on Friday, adding that leaders should be open to dialogue with perceived enemies or risk sowing the seeds of war.

“Insulting has become normal,” he said in a 45-minute-long improvised talk to university students in Rome. “We need to lower the volume a bit and we need to talk less and listen more.” … “In the newspapers, we see this one insulting that one, that one says this about the other one,” he said.

“But in a society where the standards of politics has fallen so much - I am talking about world society - we lose the sense of building society, of social co-existence, and social co-existence is built on dialogue.”

Francis urged everyone to seek “the patience of dialogue”.

He added: “Wars start inside our hearts, when I am not able to open myself to others, to respect others, to talk to others, to dialogue with others, that is how wars begin.”

A fluke? 

A freak accident? 

An outlier?

Maybe not.

The Washington Post, soon after, presented a profile of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, Simply stated, Gorsuch is steadfast and surprising.

Gorsuch has also established deep and enduring relationships with liberals he has known since his school days — in some cases the very targets of his pointed attacks. He has won endorsements from gay friends and hired law clerks from the opposite end of the political spectrum. He has argued that the court system shortchanges low-income people and called for making legal services cheaper and courts more accessible. Even the simple writing style of his opinions, which have won wide attention in legal circles, reflects his conviction that the law should be understandable to everyone, lest it favor only the wealthy and well educated.

Gorsuch’s brother said. “You come to the realization that there isn’t just one side or the other that is right. The truth is often in the middle.”

Gorsuch was constantly establishing such connections with others, regardless of their political philosophy.

“He would have a real conversation with people from the top professors to waiters and waitresses at a restaurant. He sort of put himself in their shoes,” he said. “He made you feel like you were the only person in the room when he was talking to you.”

Classmates and acquaintances — from his time in college, law school and Oxford — uniformly describe him in such effusive terms.

“There are a whole lot of people at Harvard Law School who are interested in talking and want you to think that they’re the most important person in the room,” said Ken Mehlman, his Harvard housemate who later became chairman of the Republican National Committee. “But Neil was very curious about other people and learning what they had to say.”

….

He has hired clerks from both liberal and conservative backgrounds, and last week, all of them — except two currently clerking at the Supreme Court — signed a bipartisan letter praising his independence.

I’m highly confident that neither Pope Francis or Judge Gorsuch developed their attitude of respectful listening by Web-surfing around the counter-counter-revolutionary websites. It’s just… good breeding. That said, we guerrillas now are in some mighty fancy company.

You could be too. Our company at livingroomconversations.org, for starters. 

You’re invited. Auntie Joan Wants You!

That said, Your Holiness? Mr. Soon-to-be-Associate-Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court? You are setting an inspiring example for people all over the world. Thank you. 

And if you ever wish to set up a high-profile Living Room Conversation, we’re not snobs. Just contact us. We’re happy to mentor newbies like you through the process. 

It’s Easy! It’s Fun!

Living room too tame a venue for your tastes?  Well… the Pope, a Judge, and a bunch of counter-counter-revolutionaries walk into a bar…. 

You pick the pub. 

We’ll buy the first round.