America We Want To Be: Founding Aspirations

Conversation Guide

When the Declaration of Independence was written, not everyone was included in the famous statement about “pursuit of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” And while the aspirations expressed in our founding documents resonate for some more than others, there are many views regarding the degree to which we have advanced these aspirations for everyone. Some focus more on the great strides we have made; others point to how far we still need to go. Some believe that focusing on the past prevents forward progress; others think we still need to come to terms with our shadow side.

Background Information:

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.

Let's Get Started!

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...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

ONE: Why are we here?

What interested you or drew you to this topic?

TWO: Your core values

Answer one or more of the following:

  • 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:

The America We Want to Be

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.

Answer one or more of the following:

  • As you reflect on America’s founding aspirations, what are your thoughts and feelings about our country today?
  • What role, if any, do you believe our history should play in America today?
  • What does your ideal modern America look like, in terms of its aspirations and past?
  • Where do you think we are generally in agreement?
  • What is your personal commitment to creating the America you want?

FOUR: Reflection

Answer one or more of the following:

  • 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

Answer both of the following questions:

  • 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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