Some Other Frames
- Buddhists often use the term “beneficial” to describe life-affirming and healthy characteristics.
- Aldo Leopold, a naturalist, has used the language, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Note that, even though the words ‘right and wrong’ are used, he also describes those concepts using the word “tends,” which is similar to a preference.
- Richard Rorty has written about lessening cruelty and humiliation in the world by creating solidarity and understanding between more people…i.e., empathy. Rorty writes that there may be no stand-alone right/wrong reasons for why we would want to decrease suffering, other than that all of us humans suffer. It seems that most of us would prefer to decrease suffering, even if we can’t objectively prove why that is.
- An objective lens on morality suggests that morality relates to the well-being of conscious creatures. That well-being depends on many factors, ranging from genetics and neurobiology to sociology and economics, and maximizing those which enable us to seek happiness and avoid misery.
- According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations in the world. There are over 50 versions of the Bible – and that doesn’t count the Apocrypha. There is no common belief held universally in all Christian denominations. The most common response is that all Christians believe in the messianic tradition fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, son of God – yet that tradition was only solidified in the First Council of Nicaea – and antitrinitarian movements formed as a response and continue to this day.
- Judaism similarly has a huge number of sects/denominations. Even in its earliest iteration, there were four main branches of Judaism – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Zealots – each of which held differing beliefs with regard to both faith and scripture.
- Losing attachment to strategies and wants – Needs Shifting. Hold your Needs dearly, and your strategies lightly.
Civil Conversation Virtues
Words Matter, Facts Don’t: Words shape how we see the world and convey truth in a way facts don’t.
Fully Embodied Listening: Listening is more than being quiet while others have their say. It is about presence as much as receiving; it is about connection more than observation.
Civility is an Adventure, not an Exercise in Niceness: Honor the difficulty of what we face and the complexity of what it means to be human.
Humility is a Companion to Curiosity: Humility is not about getting small. It’s about encouraging others to be big.
Patience: Patience is a commitment to move through the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.
Hospitality is a Universal Language: You don’t have to love, forgive, or feel compassion to offer hospitality.
Holding Space: “Holding space is to walk alongside another in whatever journey they’re on, without judging, trying to fix them, or impact the outcome.” -You
Holding space goes beyond listening. It requires us to hear the other person, have empathy and not make make the situation about us by trying to give insight, “fix” or offer advice. Holding space is the practice of recognizing the intrinsic and extrinsic needs of the other while being aware of our own. Staying mindful of your breath can be an anchor to presence. While you are actively learning about someone else, you are passively teaching someone about yourself.
“We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again..… The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” – Pema Chodron
Create the Conditions for Civil Conversation
Outline from the beginning that this gathering (at least initially) is not about reaching any resolution or conclusions. It is about connecting the people behind the ideas and beliefs. No one will be advocating for others to see things their way. No one will feel pressured to give up the ground they stand on. Stating this very clearly can be disarming, and the first step of creating the conditions of civil conversation.
Tools for Delving Further
Write down specific questions
- Reference these question throughout the conversation to stay on topic
- Get curious about what forms their worldview (cultural background, early childhood)
- Ask open-ended questions
Hitting the pause button
- Stop the conversation and take 3 deep breaths.
- Stand-up or adopt a radically different body posture.
- Embrace silence, sit with it, take a break.
Language of reframing
- “Tell me what you mean when you use that word.”
- “Help me get a full picture of what that means to you.”
- Ask opened questions, Yes/No questions can stifle the conversation
- Substitute “I agree” or “We agree” rather that using the word right or wrong
- Trains the mind to see the discussion as contextual, rather than absolute.
- Use ‘my view’ instead of ‘it is’ this way
- You don’t need to agree with them to validate them.
- Confirm the meaningfulness of their experience.
- “I understand what you’re saying, and….”
Be Mindful of Time
- Set clear agreements about how long you plan to talk.
- Utilize a talking stick or hand signal method in group conversations.
- Respect and uphold time considerations.
Rubber meets the Road
- Believing/Doubting game
- What are the possibilities?
- Compelling positive vision
- What are our needs?
Triggered! Now what
- What is meaningful and important to each of us?
- (Flooded) Hendrick institute model
- Acknowledge the trigger.
- Put the conversation on pause.
- Write down the details of what prompted the trigger-food for thought
- Becoming triggered is gift, it has something to tell us about our own strong views
Formulate a question for everyone to carry out into the world and, if you plan to meet again, to frame your next gathering. You might get there by asking people to share one of the following:
- Something you’ve learned from someone else during the meeting.
- Something you’re still thinking about.
- Something you want to talk more about at the next gathering.
Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. – Albert Einstein
Win the Battle, Lose the War – timeless wisdom