Our fourth meeting for the Guild for Civil Dialogue took place on Sunday, May 17 with five participants -- three regulars and two newcomers.
(Plenty of folks got in touch in advance to say they'd be out of town or otherwise engaged for this one -- we look forward to seeing them next time!)
Doors opened at 3:30PM. We shared some good food and modest beverages, and took some time to get caught up on doings of our culture over the past month.
David introduced the topic, "Mind Frames / Re-Framing Conversations" with a Pearls Before Swine cartoon that was sent to him anonymously last month, and then shared a modest bit of activism he took on to alert the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to it's abusive use of "disgust" language to drive donations.
We discussed how challenging it is to experience the feeling of disgust over positions we disagree on -- the latest House bill on healthcare came to mind -- and at the same time how unleashing the emotional charge of disgust can further polarize us. "You don't punch the kid on the playground just because he looked at you funny."
Some of us shared stories of interactions with people who were doing something that summoned our contempt, and how we re-framed the circumstance with an act of understanding and compassion. These were important reminders that we all have that useful capacity for empathy to draw from.
In this vein we watched the "Worlds Apart" video from Heineken which, dear Reader, you are highly encouraged to experience.
Next we briefly reviewed slides provided by Susan Dobra (who couldn't be with us) that outline George Lakoff's theory of framing to evoke civil dialogue. We all agreed it was rich stuff that really could use more unpacking by Susan -- hence our topic for next month's meeting will be "Mind Frames / Re-Framing Conversations, Part II," led by Susan. (David will be absent.)
We watched a short video on Ann Arbor's A2Ethics "Big Ethical Question Slam" as a refresher. David relayed that he's reached out to Mobilize Chico's Anti-Polarization subcommittee to gauge their interest in partnering with us on the Slam, date TBD. We'll contact A2Ethics to start the planning process.
Our next meeting is Sunday, June 18 at the usual time. Come prepared to share from your experiences with civil dialogue!