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Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights, fundamental freedoms, and dignity of others. People are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe. As people have moved within the United States or from other parts of the world, our communities have changed. Division within societies and wars between them are often fuelled by intolerance for differences. What might we achieve in the United States and around the globe if we adopt tolerance as a guiding principle?
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 are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Tolerance (~40 min)
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 the difference, if any, between tolerance, understanding, and acceptance?
- What does tolerance mean to you?
- Is tolerance a quality you value in yourself and others? Why or why not?
- Have you experienced being the target of intolerance? What happened?
- Is there risk in tolerating those different from you? If so, what is the risk?
- What, if anything, causes you to be intolerant?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful / valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation.
- What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?