Women can take the lead to create safe spaces where people can listen deeply and with curiosity to the person on the ‘other side’. It’s simple – and challenging — and there may not be anything more important on the planet right now.
Like many of you, we are distressed to witness how the level of discourse in our country has deteriorated and become filled with divisiveness and fear. National Conversation Project recently wrote: ‘The United States is facing a cultural crisis. Increasingly in America today, we don’t just disagree — we distrust, dislike, even despise those who see the world differently. Animosity for positions is becoming contempt for the people who hold them.” They go on to quote statistics showing loneliness, isolation and depression on the rise in the U.S. – in part because we are no longer talking to our neighbors, work mates and even family members.
We invite women everywhere to step up and begin to create safe spaces for difficult conversations in their local community. Authentic conversations occur when we listen deeply, speak from our inner wisdom, and respect the dignity of each person. The use of circle principles (link this) prepares the space which makes this possible. Stillness and spiritual grounding are practices that prepare each individual to be present.
There are wonderful organizations already doing this important work and practical resources to help you get started:
The National Conversation Project
Essential Partners: Bold Explorations in Community
Listen First Project
Living Room Conversations
National Institute for Civil Discourse
BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS
Public Conversations: Building Skills and Confidence by Helen Sands and Robert Jenkins
Doing Democracy with Circles by Jennifer Ball, Wayne Caldwell and Kay Pranis (2010)
Fostering Dialogue Across Divides: A Nuts and Bolts Guide from Essential Partners
Kay Lindahl – Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2003
Diane M. Milis – Conversation, the Sacred Art, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2013