The Golden Rule in Politics

Conversation Guide

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People with different theological and political views are coming together to express concern about the polarization and hostility that is tearing our country apart. We are deeply troubled by the prospect of an angry and hateful political campaign season in 2020 that would further divide us as a nation. 

There is a belief that our country can find guidance through this dilemma in the spiritual teachings and practice of the Golden Rule – to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”— especially as we engage in political activity. We believe that if enough people follow this Golden Rule principle, it will help generate the respect and kindness  we so desperately need in our country. 

Background Information:

This topic was created in partnership with the National Institute for Civil Discourse. Read more about this initiative here.

Let's Get Started!

Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-7 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share and learn. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate. Some hosts may offer a Q & A after Closing.

Introductions:
Why We're Here (~10 min)

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.

Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Conversation Agreements:
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. 

Question Rounds:
What We’ll Talk About

Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.

Round 1:
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

  • What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are?
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?

Round 2:

The Golden Rule in Politics (~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.

  • What does the Golden Rule mean to you? Do you personally apply the Golden Rule in your interactions with others? If you don’t, what holds you back from doing so?
  • Do you assume good intent in those with whom you disagree or do you find yourself skeptical? Why? 
  • How do you feel about the deep political divisions we have in our country at this time? What do you think people can do to help bridge those divides?
  • If you are interested in applying the Golden Rule to your interactions over politics, what are some next steps you could do during this upcoming election season? If not, what would keep you from doing so?

Round 3:
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
  • What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
  • How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

Closing (~5 min)

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

Thank You!

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