Righteousness and Relationships
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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?
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!
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 Righteousness and Relationships? (~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.
- 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?
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?