Prof. Ryan Fowler at PennLive:
Loud partisan talking points and hurling ideological platitudes at one another is in direct conflict with the (com-/cum-) prefix of the word “communication.” In fact, the Latin word that communication derives from–communicare–actually means “to share.” Lately, we don’t seem to share very well in this country. This situation is the result of two developments: first, a widespread breakdown across the United States of a basic sense of civility, respect and politeness; and, second, we have gotten into the habit of identifying our ideological opposition as inimical—the enemy. These two circumstances would—naturally—result in an inability for reasonable communication.
What I suggest is a moment of common ground. Conversation requires at least one moment of agreement; without a moment of agreement, conversation becomes hopeless; gone is the likelihood of collaborative creation of legislation, policy, or action that drives our country forward. What is lost is the chance for both sides to work toward their visions, but on the bases that agreement – and respectful disagreement—are essential for democracy to function. In short, we might think about understanding communication as a moment of sharing; and this approach, in turn, might allow us to redefine our sense of a word that originally means “something held in common” — community.