In this Meetup, inspired by Jonathan Haidt and other authors who examine how humans think and act in cultural and political environments, people from diverse political and cultural backgrounds try to better understand their own and others' values and beliefs - and possibly even find areas of agreement across the usual political and cultural boundaries. This is NOT "Crossfire" or some other political debate program. This is not a college dorm-room discussion. The initial plan is to meet for two hours once a week for four weeks- although we could do more Meetups if we decide to explore the concepts further.
The objective is not so much to advance policy prescriptions or to find areas of policy agreement (e.g., in health care or defense policy) as to explore – through exercises and case studies – how we think and how we become so attached to particular values and beliefs that separate us into Blue, Red, and other Americans. Class participation and a strong interest in hearing and understanding other points of view will be crucial to our success. There are recommended (but not required) readings that allow members to get more out of the Meetups.
One of the most valuable parts of the program is the opportunity for each member to visit, as an open-minded anthropologist, people who hold political or cultural views that are different from those of the member and to report back to the Meetup on what he/she learned.
Note: The readings and case studies include fact scenarios that some might consider offensive. The point is not to offend, but to demonstrate learning points and to consider how we should respond.
Hopefully we will learn something about ourselves and about those other Americans we often consider to be our opponents in political and cultural battles. Maybe we'll even find areas of agreement with those opponents. And we'll have some fun, too!