On Our Minds: Living Room Conversations

August 24, 2014

Healing democracy, one living room at a time.  Joan Blades and Parker Palmer introduce us to a grassroots movement that brings small groups of people together across bitter political divisions, to help them find common ground.


What an uplifting interview and conversation. Keep on the good work!

I like that Joan Blades and Parker Palmer identify the bunker mentality as one of the primary dangers of the modern world. But it's a bit ironic that creating that mentality is something that MoveOn has a hard time avoiding. Though I lean in that direction, I do find the alarmist messages from MoveOn a little troubling. Lawrence Lessig seems like he's doing more to try and get us out of the bunker than most these days. But I find it hard to completely extract myself from the bunker in that what he's doing really scares me re. the possibility of at least temporarily, perhaps inadvertently, handing the keys to the Tea Party.

..So I can understand even less where you stand?


Greg Slater

What about a living room conversation between putin and mccain, where they guy bond. Between netanyahu and Mashal, Obama and Rouhani, or Assad, or Malaki. If we can establish that we're all nice people, just living in our own bunkers/echo chambers/google filter bubbles/twitter feeds...
I dunno. I do talk to moral adversaries. And as long as we talk about anything other than things that really matter to us, we get along famously. But any approach to fundamental moral differences and we're yelling at each other again, and all the strained pleasant conversation is for not. Do you have recordings of any of these conversations so I can see if there not completely stilted?
Greg Slater

the american socialist party or the tea party?

Just a brief observation. The anecdote about the doctor and his paperwork taking time away from his family at the end of a long clinic today, implied that paperwork was government paperwork (the government is bad trope). Without knowing more details, I would simply like to point out that most paperwork that medical practices must produce are for private payers. Medicare does increasingly audit paperwork to justify billing. However, the overwhelming amount of work that goes into the billing process, including sending supporting documentation and prior authorizations, for private payers. To make matters worse, payors have different requirements, compounding the complexity and time required of providers and their staff.

I agree with the first commenter that this was great show. It's a concept that resonates with me.

There was a time when most people participated in a deeply felt social contract, and they felt a shared responsibility to build our society and to do so in the direction of the common good. I think that we need a shared sense of responsibility especially in an age of considerable social, class, or racial diversity.

Unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans, we, have failed at establishing what this social contract should be.

Liberals can have an unrealistic sense of entitlement. Compared to conservatives, they tend to want government to pay for many things and to correct injustices for each individual. I don't think they necessarily want government to regulate everything, but when you want government to pay for a lot of things, regulation follows.

Many conservatives live in a fantasy of rugged individualism and extreme personal responsibility, to the point where they barely seem to acknowledge any responsibility to society at all. They feel a sense of responsibility to their family, or their church congregation, or people that are like them. I think that there are big limits though to their sense of inclusion. A lot of conservatives I know think that religion justifies their views, as in the case of manifest destiny, God loves America, etc.

It will take a major shift in our culture to change these attitudes to begin to think about the common good. The way our cities are built, the way our lives are lived, are not supportive of community and shared values and goals.