Understanding America: Reunited States
The motto of the United States is e pluribus unum– out of many, one. Our nation has blended cultures, beliefs, and people from across the world to varying degrees of success. In recent years, it is our divisions and not our “one” that have taken center stage in our politics, communities, and media. The Reunited States highlights individual efforts to rewrite the narrative of division into one of reunification. This conversation invites you to add your voice to this shared American story and explore the ways you can build understanding with your neighbors and fellow citizens. We are all part of the many, let’s work together toward the one.
Background Information:This is the final conversation in the ‘Understanding America’ conversation pathway. We recommend you complete What Are American Values? and Political Stereotypes before having this conversation. In addition, his guide was created in partnership with The Reunited States documentary. We recommend you watch the film before having the conversation. You can find it HERE.
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 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?
Reunited States- Building Understanding in America (~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..
- In the film, Erin Leaverton asked her dinner guests the question “What is your American story?” How would you answer this question?
- What stories are missing from your understanding of the community or country you live in?
- Where are you seeing problematic divisions? Which ones most impact your life? [or Which would you like most to heal/bridge?]
- Susan Bro referred to reunification as a “heart movement” not a “political movement”. What is your heart telling you?
- What comes up when you think of your individual role in bridging understanding and reunification? What are your experiences in this kind of work and what would you like to see happen moving forward?
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?