Peacebuilding in the United States

Conversation Guide

The US has in many ways always been a divided society, but what is causing fierce political, social and ethnic divides in the United States today? Hate crimes and hate groups are increasingly visible, and political leaders are using ethnic identity, socio-economic identity — and an “us v. them” mentality -- to create fear and increase polarization. This increase in tribalism and ethnic protection (including Republican vs. Democrat as core identities), reflect core grievances at the heart of what drives violent conflict in many countries all over the world. How did we get here and what are the peacebuilding solutions for a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy?

Background Information:

This topic was created by the Alliance for Peacebuilding. Read more about them here.

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:

Peacebuilding in America

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:

  • How do the “us and them” divisions impact you?
  • Who is us and who is them? How many friends do you have in other groups?
  • What should we expect from our leaders in terms of healing divisions?
  • What are the areas of strength that allow the US to overcome division?
  • How would you explain to a child your dream for what a more unified US would look like?

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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