Beginning of an idea

April 18, 2010

I think it was the screaming in the middle of paradise.

While the sun was shining, the waves rolling in and out, and whales were slapping the surface, the men on the screen were screaming about  – well, about everything. And that’s when the idea was born.

“Someone should teach these guys how to argue.”

“It’s just entertainment, you know,” said a friend.

And that’s when it became clear – if politics is truly the art of getting things done, this country is in trouble.  We see the professional entertainers on our televisions screaming and yelling about issues that really are important to our future. And we have come to believe that is how issues should be discussed. You’re either right or you’re wrong – right?

No – not really. Politics require reasonable people with a variety of viewpoints who are willing to engage in a discussion that will lead to solutions.  And true solutions require compromise, and a willingness to listen.  So what’s a woman to do?

Throw a dinner party, of course.  That’s how our idea for “civil discourse dinners” began – on a gorgeous poolside in Mexico with screaming news entertainers in the background.

The idea is very simple – invite 4-6 friends who don’t know each other, and may – based on political party affiliation, or background, or other difference – have an inclination to disagree on current policy issues. Begin with tapas and a glass of wine or two around the kitchen island, then move to a sit down dinner in the dining room with the goal of actually talking through difficult issues civilly.

No topic is off the table – and all of Mom’s rules about what to avoid at the dinner table are vanquished – politics, sex, and religion are fair game.

So is it possible to initiate meaningful discussion on difficult topics in today’s America?  So far, the experience has been promising. We’ve had two Civil Discourse Dinners and we’re enjoying the new friendships walking away from the table.

More later –