It’s Thanksgiving and I’m thinking of you. Living Room Conversations have completely changed my life and the way I see myself and others. I live in a different world–a world of hope, miraculous connections, and the knowledge that no matter what the values of the person in front of me or on my screen, we each “hold these truths to be self-evident,” as one of our most famous presidents put it.
We all want happiness. We all want freedom. We all want to live in a country where we can talk over problems and resolve them together. This week, I share our organizer Leah Staub’s Living Room Conversations Experience, and from you, ask two things:
- Permission to share your Living Room Experience (if you can choose one–and email it to me)
- Consideration of donating a gift of any size to Living Room Conversations. All the experiences we offer are completely free. You might not know their cost: every year, we raise over $100,000 to continue making Living Room Conversations available for free, in gifts that range from $5.00 to many thousands. Each gift is important. Living Room Conversations includes us all. We value every gift.
Beth G. Raps, Phd
And now–Leah Staub’s Living Room Conversations Experience!
I would like to share a “living room experience” I had the other day in the parking lot of a Safeway in Silverdale, WA. I was walking my cart of groceries to my car when an older gentleman came up to me to ask me about the make and model of my Toyota Scion. He said he had the same car from a different year. We talked for a few minutes and the conversation somehow continued longer than one would expect from a stranger in a parking lot!
He briefly mentioned having issues with transportation (stemming from the original topic) and employment. I soon realized that we had vastly different opinions on the reasons people in his particular cohort (age, socioeconomic status, etc.) have begun to feel isolated and desperate in our current political and social climate.
I firmly disagreed with many of his statements. However, I continued listening. It felt like chipping away at ice to (hopefully) find some fish swimming in the waters below. I could understand why he developed some of the opinions he maintained. I looked him in the eyes and saw the complicated humanness we all share.
After a few minutes, he paused, looked at the ground, and began opening up about how lonely and depressed he has been for years. I could relate to this type of desperation. I told him a bit of my story and how I have tried to work past the seemingly insurmountable obstacles I have come across in my short 28 years. At this moment, we were the same despite our difference of opinion on the “why” and “how” of certain matters.
See, I may not have had the patience to continue listening if it wasn’t for my experience interning with Living Room Conversations. It is very possible that I would have made some excuse to leave, but I was patient and careful with my words and preconceived notions.
Even when I end up in a Living Room Conversation via Zoom with others who, for the most part, agree with my fundamental beliefs on the topic, we are all still developing invaluable tools. The ability to simply discuss some of these matters is crucial if we are ever able to move forward. The ability to question my core beliefs and assumptions through the careful analysis of a differing opinion is a skill that has been strengthened thanks to Living Room Conversations.
PS: Your gift at this time gives us a huge boost. If you do any end-of-year giving, we’d greatly appreciate being on your list! Find out the different ways to make a gift here.