Friday, October 12, 2012

Still More Fixing Democracy, Part 1

This is the first in a new series of posts on how to make our democracy work better based on an interview article in The Intelligent Optimist magazine (formerly Ode) with Tom Atlee, co-director of the Co-Intelligence Institute in Eugene, Oregon.


Q—“Your books explain how citizens can be involved in formulating policy on complex issues. Does this work for diverse issues as well?”

A—“Lifestyle issues, such as abortion and gay rights, tend to be harder to get people to agree on.  Yet in the last 20 years we’ve been developing both an increasing capacity to generate consensus and understanding on a wider range of issues and an ability to generate more civil forms of conflict on the difficult divisive issues.”


Q—“Can you give an example?

A—“After watching abortion activists screaming at each other on television, family system therapists at the Public Conversations Project in Cambridge, MA, got together a half-dozen of [them]. After first chatting over coffee and doughnuts—not knowing who each other were—they gathered in a circle to share what happened in each of their lives to make them so passionate about the issue. That’s when they discovered who was pro-life and who was pro-choice, in the context of their personal stories. So even if you disagree, you can come to understand why others think the way they do.”

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