I was listening to the Bookcast about Cosmopolitanism and the author was talking and saying that we do not listen to people with other ideas and opinions. Oh, I listen, but I tend not to engage. Debate is not my strong suite, I know my weaknesses. I describe myself as a moderate conservative, but most of my friends are serval flavors of liberal. I've listened to them and I do gain an understanding of where they are coming from. But that understanding does not equal a change in my point of view.
A problem I've noticed is that people tend to hang around people of similar views, as we naturally do. Unfortunately, as the author pointed out, people who hang out with like people don't understand those who think differently and question the sanity of those who think differently and dismiss them.
That dismissing, which feeds into disrespect makes it hard for different thoughts to come together. The news media doesn't help. They tend to set things up for a fight, a respectful Jerry Springer. Also both sides bring up charactures of the other side. Of course, the charactures tend to readily show up.
The author mentioned something else that stuck with me. Universalism is not the answer either. It is okay if at the end of the day we don't agree. And that's okay with me as long as we can peacefully co-exist finding some deal where the yahoos can be yahoos and live among the nimrods.