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:

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.


Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Many of you have heard the story – maybe even a few times – about how Sandy and I began working on what now has become Common Ground. The idea was to begin, in very small steps, to promote conversations that would eventually lead to civil conversations about controversial issues impacting all of our lives.   This was not a knee-jerk reaction to the election results. In fact, the idea began before the votes were counted.

Common Ground is off to a good start. We have had some meaningful conversations. We’ve shared our stories, and we’ve begun to uncover some of the things that make us tick. But, candidly, it’s been mostly a one-sided conversation so far. The folks who have come together have been diverse in sex, race, religion, age, occupation, and so on. What has not been well represented, so far, is diversity in political philosophy.   It’s been a fairly progressive group. So, why is that? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it’s not a simple answer.

I’ve had friends state that they’re just not interested in attending because they fear it will be one-sided rant against Trump or the GOP-led Congress. Some, I fear, are just unable to believe that there can be an even-handed exchange of ideas that won’t devolve into an argument.   And, candidly, it’s not an unreasonable fear given what’s modeled in the public space every day.

We’re all inundated with information – television network and cable news, local, national and satellite radio, podcasts, social media, print (yes, it still exists), and entertainment programs. What’s real and what’s “fake”? Is it really possible to be completely sure anymore? Discerning reality is not so black and white.   From the beginning, the intent of Common Ground has been to promote dialogue where two people can discuss their own perspectives of what is real. And, perhaps most importantly, describe how that reality impacts their worldview.

So I would love to encourage each of you to come to Common Ground. Let me also encourage all of you to invite someone who may see the world a little differently than you do. We all have friends who voted differently than we did. We respect people who have a different vision of the path forward for out country and the world. Contrary to what I tell Sandy, I’m not always right. My worldview is always enhanced by intelligent conversation with others – especially those who disagree with me. Let’s continue the conversations that will let us go forward together.