Our third meeting of the Guild for Civil Politics took place on Sunday, 4/23/17, with 13 participants, 7 of them first-timers.
Doors opened at 3:30PM. A few of us gathered to share a little conversation with light fare and drink.
The meeting started at 4PM. David reviewed our work from the previous two meetings, and we agreed on the proposed agenda for this meeting.
David introduced the topic "Getting Past Disagreement to Understanding, a.k.a. How Do You Have a Worthwhile Conversation With Someone With Whom You Disagree?" by reading a selection from Madison's essay on factions in The Federalist Papers, number 10 (posted previously in this blog).
Learning from our previous meetings, we broke into groups of 3 or 4 to (1) introduce ourselves to each other, (2) share any civil dialogue situations/outcomes from the previous month, and (3) describe what techniques we've found useful in having a conversation with someone with whom we disagree.
We reconvened and each group shared their wisdom. Some themes:
• Keep in mind that most of us are trying our best.
• It helps to re-frame the conversation with things we share in common.
• Another way to re-frame is to do something you may both enjoy.
• Sometimes conversations go awry -- sometimes you have to walk away.
• It helps to get curious: what's behind the other opinion?
As we continued to explore these themes we came back to a central question:
Why do we think we want civil discourse? This can be hard work. What's in it for us?
We recognize that as voters there is an incentive there to convince our fellow voters to go along with our viewpoints.
Personal world views can supply qualitatively different motivations for dialogue. These may have religious, humanitarian, Darwinian or other expressions. If we aren't aware of how our own personal philosophies have shaped our views, it may be difficult to appreciate how another's is shaped.
David shared his default philosophy as an example, and challenged the group to pay attention over the coming month to how personal philosophy enters into civil dialogue.
Those gathered affirmed interest in producing a Big Ethical Question Slam in the fall of this year, modeled after A2Ethics events.
We agreed to change our thinking about "rules of the road" for our group. Instead we will frame up some best practices and use these as a positive guide that should serve our Guild for Civil Dialogue and life in general.
Our next meeting is Sunday, May 21 at the usual time. Our theme will be: "Mind Frames / Re-framing Conversations." Come prepared to share what you've learned about how your personal philosophy enters into your conversations!