Righteousness and Relationships
Racist, sexist, homophobe, even nazi: these words have lost their power for many conservatives. They don’t believe that these words describe them. They experience this as name calling – part of an ongoing effort to undermine people on the right who have different values. Latte drinking liberal, femi-nazi, elitist: these are a few of the words that are used to dismiss people on the left. So now we are caught in a culture war where we are all losing. Losing friends, losing family, losing the ability to solve problems in a way that respects and honors the needs of everyone affected. How do we change this dynamic? Is there a way for us to tap into the kindness and goodwill that we’ve seen in friends across the political spectrum?
Background Information:While you don’t need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.
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, 4-6 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, learn, and be curious. 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.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
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.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
What are your thoughts on Righteousness and Relationships? (~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.
- Do you want to have friends that hold viewpoints that are different from your own? Why is this kind of friendship valuable or not?
- How might we step out of the exclusively right/wrong paradigm to explore what’s really important to – and enlivens – us all?
- Have you ever chosen to let someone be “right” to preserve a relationship? Have you ever insisted on being right with your opinion or facts? What happened?
- Are there specific topics or issues where you’ve decided what is right and are not open to new ideas?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?