Peace Building in the United States
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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 in partnership with the Alliance for Peacebuilding. Read more about them here.
Let's Get Started!
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
What are your thoughts on Peace Building in the United States ? (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.
- 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?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- 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?
- 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?