Talking about . . . righteousness and relationships
Racist, sexist, homophobe even nazi, these words have lost their power for many conservatives. They don’t believe that these words describe them. They experience this as name calling - part of an ongoing effort to undermine people on the right who have different values. Latte drinking liberal, femi-nazi, elitist, these are a few of the words that are used to dismiss people on the left. So now we are caught in a culture war where we are all losing. Losing friends, losing family, losing the ability to solve problems in a way that respects and honors the needs of everyone affected. How do we change this dynamic? Is there a way for us to tap into the kindness and goodwill that we’ve seen in friends across the political spectrum?
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Background reading (optional)
While you don't need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.
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Now that you are all together, here we go!
This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.
Before you begin your conversation, please go over the Conversation Ground Rules with your participants.
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One. Why are we here?
What interested you or drew you to this topic?
Two. Your core values
- what sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
- what would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
- what are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?
Three. What are your hopes and concerns?
Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions and goals.
- Do you want to have friends that hold viewpoints that are different from your own? Why is this kind of friendship valuable or not?
- How might we step out of the exclusively right/wrong paradigm to explore what’s really important to - and enlivens - us all?
- Have you ever chosen to let someone be “right” to preserve a relationship? Have you ever insisted on being right with your opinion or facts? What happened?
- Are there specific topics or issues where you’ve decided what is right and are not open to new ideas?
- in one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation;
- what new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
Five. Accomplishment and moving forward
- name one important thing that was accomplished here;
- is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
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