When engaging with anti-mask protestors, this LA professor used calm and curiosity

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When Blaine Pope came across anti-mask protestors, he thought, “How do we have this kind of discussion and not want to scratch each other’s eyes out in the process? How do we talk about something that’s difficult to talk about, but do so in a respectful way?” Photo by Shutterstock.

On May 3, CSUN professor Blaine Pope picked up his 11-year old daughter from school in Santa Monica, and when they were about to head home, they passed by a small group of anti-mask protesters. At his child’s urging, Pope and his daughter engaged the protestors in a calm 20-minute conversation. 

They stepped around the politics of the coronavirus pandemic, choosing to ask questions and be curious of people who held different beliefs. The interaction was caught on camera by a reporter for the Beverly Hills Courier. 

Pope says he looked at the protestors and thought, “How do we have this kind of discussion and not want to scratch each other’s eyes out in the process? How do we talk about something that’s difficult to talk about, but do so in a respectful way?” 

Pope says, “I brought the sort of same energy or tone I bring when I teach, and my approach is not to either applaud something I agree with or jump down the throat of a student who I may disagree with, but really just to explore their thought process and allow people to express themselves. And then we begin to flesh out these concepts one by one.”

He adds, “We can still have good adult conversations. We don’t necessarily have to convince each other in that moment that one side is right, one side is wrong. But maybe we sit with that for a while, and we sit with these difficult issues, and let issues percolate. That’s another approach simply.” 

Credits

Guest:

  • Blaine Pope - professor of business administration at CSUN