August 2, 2018

This month’s topic, IMMIGRATION IN AMERICA, will engage us in discussing values related to care, liberty, fairness, and community while giving us a chance to once again practice active listening and respect for others’ views.

As usual, we will begin at 6:30 PM with dinner and fellowship followed by an introduction to the topic, a review of our Ground Rules, and small group discussions. OPTIONAL: BRING A DISH TO SHARE (if you can)– keeping with the immigration theme, feel free to bring a food representing you or your relatives’ country of origin – or US region of origin.

Readings for this month (links below) include a piece from along with an article from the Better Angels organization on Immigration and the American Family. We are also going to discuss writer Jonathan Haidt’s moral matrices for Liberals, Libertarians, and Social-Conservatives. Jonathan Haidt is the author of the Righteous Mind and has also been featured on Better Angels podcasts.

Article 1:

Article 2:

Media: Friend or Foe?

Enemy of the People? The Fourth Estate? Many of our participants have questioned the influence of media sources on political perspectives. Therefore, next meeting, we’ll focus on the effect of the press.

Please consider these lead questions as they will frame our discussion: “Is the press the ‘enemy of the American people’? What effect does the press have on our political system and the beliefs of our citizens?” “How do we distinguish ‘bias’ from ‘inaccuracy?”

As usual, we will meet as a whole group for an overview and then break into smaller discussion groups. Then, we will reassemble and share our “common” beliefs and ideas.

We’ll begin at 6:30 PM with dinner and fellowship (potluck if you can; please make/buy a favorite dish to share). The discussion meeting will begin at 7 PM. We plan to end around 8:30.

Optional Background Viewing:


2. Media is the Problem
(and the recent follow-up)

3. We are the problem


To reserve your free spot (and for location details), click on the ticket link. ENTER THE FOLLOWING PASSWORD:


Reserve your free spot here
PASSWORD:  cgnashville2018

“Is Healthcare a Right? A Privilege? Or Something in Between?

Please join us for our next Common Ground Nashville meeting on May 3 which will focus on Healthcare in America. While there are many aspects of healthcare to discuss, we decided to focus on the question of “What model of healthcare would you favor for you, your family, and the country?”  Employer-based healthcare? Obamacare? Single-payer healthcare or “Medicare for All”?

This month’s topic will engage us in discussing values related to individual liberty vs. the common good while giving us another chance to practice active listening and respect for others’ views.

To facilitate a rigorous and factual conversation, we ask that you prepare by reading the following articles related to single-payer healthcare.

Guns in America

At our March 1st and April 5th meetings, we discussed the especially (but always) timely issue of “Guns in America.”


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In our March 1st meeting, we split into three groups and listened to each other’s perspectives. We learned about our own personal relationships with guns and those of others, the issues driving the gun debate, and our latest feelings about schools and guns. As a diverse group, we found some common ground: we all acknowledged that this is a real problem in America and, in taking an even broader view, we reflected on the role of violence in general in our society. Many of us left that session with alternative sources of information, some clarifying understandings, glimpses into other viewpoints, and more questions related to: “So What’s Next?”

What was next (at our April meeting) was becoming more informed on other ways to get information or, more importantly–take action. With representatives from three local but very different organizations focused on this issue, we learned about alternative beliefs and solutions offered within our community. We then broke into groups and discussed these perspectives among ourselves.

Before our first meeting, we prepared by reading the following two articles. The third article provides data, information, and next steps for personal involvement and action around this issue:

  1. Article 1 (Information): NYtimes on Gun Inaction
  2. Article 2 (Information): National Review Against Gun Policies
  3. Article 3 (for ACTION): The Safe Tennessee Project

At our second meeting, we met with the following local representatives:

Captain Harmon Hunsicker,
Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD)

Kathleen Chandler Wright,
Moms Demand Action (MDA)

Barbara Holland & Natalie Chantal,
TN Firearms

Reflecting on our two discussions using exit slips, many of our members said that even with two meetings, they still wanted more time to educate themselves and discuss the issue. One member wanted more discussion specifically on “court rulings related to guns and types of guns,” and many commented on the importance of educating themselves and others with data related to gun violence.

Nevertheless, some reported that they’d already learned something new. After our first meeting, many participants said they left with a better understanding of how mental health needs contribute to shootings. One person commented that her discussion “helped me see the bigger issue of guns, not just as they related to school shootings, and how that needs to be kept in mind.” After our second meeting, one participant said that MNPD had taught them that “gun violence is concentrated in several areas and in the hands of a relatively limited number of individuals.” Another was intrigued by hearing the perspective that “a computer is a more effective tool to overthrow the government than a gun.” And in response to the MDA presentation, one member said they realized how important is was to let “gun owners know that we do not want to ‘kill the Second Amendment.'”

Keith A. Caruso MD, one of our participants, also created this document to answer questions from our sessions about Pschotropic Medication.

Overall, this was an extremely divisive issue with passions on both sides. Even when participants ultimately agreed, “many… had similar views, but different ways of coming to the same conclusion.” Many members also commented on how difficult it was to give everyone time to speak and control “filibustering in small groups.” Therefore, in the future, we will try harder to remind participants “of the ground rules and sticking to them.”

Real News or Really ? News

We shared the nexus of Common Ground before. It’s always been about promoting a civil dialogue between persons of different views and opinions. That task has always been challenging, but it’s even more problematic in our current atmosphere of information inundation from non-stop media.

The sources of that media – whether print, television, radio, or social – are seemingly not subject to the constraints of facts or fairness.   The fairness part may have always been true, but opinions were labeled as such. Now “fake news” is real and may be a term that doesn’t require quotes.

Ours is a polarized world and no faction has real cause to complain about media fairness. On all sides of the political, social, and theological spectrums, “facts” and statements are quoted without context, and extreme opinions are presented as definitively valid.

So our conversation for November will focus on the media. Questions might include:

  • What should be their responsibilities and how do we hold them accountable?
  • How do we identify “fake” or for that matter real news?
  • What is our responsibility to assess media input with an open mind? Do we sometimes close ourselves to information because it doesn’t fit into our own set of values or beliefs?

These and other questions should form the basis for an intriguing conversation.

Please join us to find Common Ground.