Bridging Political Gaps Over Handmade Mugs

Growing up many of us are told that for the sake of civility we should avoid discussing politics or religion in polite company. Seems reasonable at first, but how do we learn how to actually talk about difficult subjects when they come up? What can art, craft, and design do to make this conversation start?

Good question, because as humans we instinctively view the world in terms of "Us vs Them". Seriously, our brains hate other people. But that doesn't mean we can't change it, even when it seems like an uphill battle. Today's politically charged storm of controversies creates a hostile atmosphere for many to find common ground. Across the nation Americans are seeking ways to bridge this difficult gap and, oftentimes, artists are at the forefront of this curation process. Artists can change people's perceptions, tell each others stories, and invite powerful conversations. So what better way to do that than with conversation over a cup of coffee or tea?

The Democratic Cup seeks to provide you with just the mug for the occasion! It is a "slow activism" project created by potters Ayumi Horie and Nick Moen that stimulates political conversation through imagery on handmade cups. Are you a potter? You too can join the project by receiving a free decal from their website to apply to your own mug. Why mugs? As their website states:

"We encourage person-to-person civil conversations about social and political issues. As a country, we need conversations and connections to reinforce the dignity and inclusivity of all Americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, and culture."

They are absolutely right: the way we deal with our abstract ideas of the "other" is most effectively confronted through personal contact - not online arguments. Just as the tide of gay marriage approval had a huge impact when family members came out to their family, so too, do we need to have difficult clashes with those we don't agree with. 

"We learned from the rapidly changing views on gay marriage that direct personal contact with gay family or friends had the greatest impact on challenging views,’ said Judith Beth Cohen, an adult learning expert at Lesley University in Massachusetts. ‘In this case, cognitive dissonance came from the human contact, which made an abstraction come alive. Given that most new media feeds people what they want to hear, we need ways to get beyond our bubbles and encounter the “other”, not just virtually but in the flesh."

Having one of these beautiful mugs will not only encourage us to have new conversations but it will directly help support a wide variety of progressive causes including, but not limited to, immigration reform, women's healthcare, racial justice, and climate change. Check out their store today, buy a mug, and help change the world one conversation at a time. Sounds outlandish? Well, reconsidering how we speak and listen to one another, politely, without avoiding difficult political conversations, will certainly point the way.


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