I've been having conversations with people on opposite ends of the political spectrum about wealth inequality and extreme poverty. And I can't help but feel that liberals and conservatives are looking at the problem through very different lenses. It results in a feeling of "talking past" one another. No one feels heard. No one feels understood. And while these conversations can be terribly frustrating, I think I have finally spotted why communication breaks down.
Liberals tend to see extreme poverty as a systemic problem - one in which most poor individuals face insurmountable obstacles to improving their circumstances. Conservatives tend to see extreme poverty as an individual problem - one in which most poor individuals make bad choices or lack the character traits necessary for financial success. These two different views seem pretty obvious now that I've written it on the page, but they've been invisible to me in all but my most recent conversations.
Take a look at how the videos below frame the conversation.
Coming from a liberal perspective, I think the first video is fantastic. The second video, to me, is downright insulting.
The next time you find yourself discussing wealth inequality and extreme poverty, pay attention to the way each person is framing the issue. You just might be able to make that conversation productive, instead of talking past one another.