FOUR YEARS AGO I drove to Cony High School to go to my office on a weekend afternoon. I noticed there were many cars in the parking lots, but figured some sporting event was underway. I was wrong. It was the Republican caucus.

As I’m a liberal-minded person who usually votes for Democrats, this was a terrifying scenario. I steeled myself to walk through the food court to the library, telling myself that no one was paying attention to me. Alas, I was spotted by a friend and colleague, David, whose political leanings are usually the opposite of mine. He spotted me and called out, saying something to the effect of “you’ve decided to come over to the right side!”

So much for my cloak of invisibility.

Still, I had to laugh. He knew that was never going to happen. But isn’t it comforting when you can joke around with someone you completely disagree with?

We are losing the ability to talk to one another, and it’s not just because we spend so much time staring at our phone screens. We think of each other as “red” or “blue,” black or white, elitist or working class. We’ve just gone through a divisive election in which name-calling was rampant. Who can forget the references to “small hands” and “crooked Hillary” and the “basket of deplorables?”

We need to talk, but who dares to? I was at a community event recently, and most of the people at my table did not know each other very well, if at all. Even though we were discussing civic matters, no one brought up the election — at first. Then someone described how she had gone into “mourning” on Nov. 9. She stopped and said, “I hope I haven’t offended anyone.” We all shook our heads. There were no Trumpians in that group. But if there had been, would we have turned to fisticuffs? Or would we have been able to laugh it off?

One of the reasons Trump was able to win is that we’re only talking and listening to people who share our views. We filter the news to suit our perspectives. Too often we aren’t interested in hearing the other side. What would happen if we did?

David and I sat down recently to discuss the election. We share a number of common attributes. We are both white educators who majored in political science as undergraduates. But though Trump was not David’s first choice for the Republican nomination, he has come around to accept him and expects he will be able to effectively lead our country.

Obviously, I am in a different place. I didn’t expect David to change my mind, and I certainly knew I wasn’t going to alter his views. But I did want to hear an intelligent, thoughtful person explain why I shouldn’t be running, screaming, to find shelter on Prince Edward Island.

David sees Trump as a businessman, one who is going to start from an extreme position during negotiations and move toward the middle. Hence all those calls to “build that wall” during the campaign, an idea which Trump has already backed away from. David likes the idea that Trump isn’t a politician. A businessman in the White House is a good thing.

I see this point. I understand when David says he was afraid after President Obama was elected, just like I am now. His fear was that we were going to slide into socialism, maybe even communism.

But there is a huge gap between David’s idea of good government and mine. I admire the Scandinavian countries. Their systems aren’t perfect, but the Danes are the happiest people in the world, while we are possibly the angriest. I believe that government should take care of people. Business-oriented types don’t make people a priority. They care about money. Bottom lines. Efficiency.

David and I are coming from different places. We want different outcomes. There is no way to get around that fact that I can see. Except, that is, to keep talking. To keep listening. We all need to do this, not to change each other’s minds, but to ensure that we move forward as a nation. Pitting ourselves against one another will achieve nothing.

Progressives and liberals, I share your pain. But isn’t it up to us, the people who care about people, to set a tone of civility for the next four years? It’s an overused quote, but one of my favorites, usually attributed (perhaps mistakenly) to Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Stand strong and compassionate, and be the change we need.

Liz Soares welcomes e-mail at [email protected]