Learning to Trust Like Lincoln

Lately we’ve been learning how Living Room Conversations is attracting interest and being used across the globe, in places like the UK, Brazil, and India These countries are experiencing growing social and political rifts, just like us. It’s possible that they’re gravitating towards structured conversations to increase understanding and to heal, just like us.

The British Broadcasting Corporation, for example, recently featured Living Room Conversations in a story about families with differing political views coming together during the holidays. (You can watch that brief video, featuring our very own Becca Kearl, HERE).

The BBC saw America’s divisive election and knew connecting over the holiday would be an effective intervention to mending fractures.

It’s the same instinct, I imagine, that led President Abraham Lincoln to issue his “Proclamation of Thanksgiving” in 1863, amidst a raging Civil War. With these words began our official holiday:

“In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States…to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

Lincoln understood that bringing a splintered nation together could only be done house by house. Whether the scales tip towards war or towards peace is ultimately the choice of the American people. Forgiveness and repair can’t be decreed by government. It’s a decision we make in our hearts every day, over shared meals and regular encounters, when we chose to lean into to each other.

I wonder if there was a debate among Lincoln and his advisors when he floated his Thanksgiving idea. “Encouraging families from different sides to come together now? When tensions are so high, Abe, are you nuts?” “Come on, sir, let’s not be so kumbaya.”

But I imagine that Lincoln pushed back. He believed that we would, in fact, rise to our better angels. He bet on us. If families and neighbors came together, while there was still some sense of trust, under the positive auspices of offering praise and thanks, they would find their way back to each other.

And how about you? Were you able to find your way back to someone this Thanksgiving?

Did you try a new way to connect? Maybe you attempted to have an intentional conversation with a family member? Asked good questions that led to deeper understanding? Perhaps you hoped to, but your family wasn’t receptive?

Whatever your experience, please reply to this email and share.

We want to learn from you, because, just like Lincoln, we’re never going to stop trusting, believing, and betting on us.

Shannon Mannon
Newsletter Editor

P.S. – Thanks to all of you who so generously supported Living Room Conversations for Giving Tuesday yesterday! We are so grateful.