Political Peace Building

Conversation Guide

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Two people, a black man and a white woman, holding their hands up in peace signs

Political ads and media are fanning our anxiety about the other side and threatening the very fabric of our communities. Can we engage with generosity and lead with our deepest values at this time of heightened political polarization? Can we be peace builders? This conversation was designed to foster political peace building efforts within political affinity groups. It provides an opportunity to reflect on how we got to our current polarized climate and what the costs of that division are as we face the presidential election. What
commitments can we make with ourselves and friends to help us heal rifts and better model what a successful democratic republic can be?

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:

Political Peace Building (~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. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows.

  • What is one bit of wisdom for getting along with people who are different? Where did you learn it from? How is it currently serving you?
  • What assumptions do you find yourself making about people with different politics? How does that play out in the way you treat them?
  • What are the benefits and/or costs for the divisiveness of our politics? Has this changed for you over the years?
  • What values do you understand to be shared by all Americans? How could these values contribute to peace-building?
  • A core human desire is to be seen and heard. What does this look like in a political context?
  • If the candidate you support doesn’t win—how do you want to be treated?

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?
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?

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!