Talking about . . . what are American values/ideals?
The current polarized climate might suggest we have deep disagreements about American values/ideals, and live out of conflicting understandings. But what exactly are American values/ideals? What do you most value about the United States? Do they derive from our founding documents, so you look to “the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? Or the Constitution and Bill of Rights -- protecting the rights of individuals from government overreach, foreign threats and the passions of the people. Or do they derive from something else entirely? Let’s rediscover our shared American values/ideals.
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On a time crunch? Here is our condensed 3 round version.
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Background reading (optional)
While you don't need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.
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Now that you are all together, here we go!
This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.
Before you begin your conversation, please go over the Conversation Ground Rules with your participants.
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One. Why are we here?
What interested you or drew you to this topic?
Two. Your core values
- what sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
- what would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
- what are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?
Three. What are American values/ideals?
Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions and goals.
- What are you most proud of as an American? Is there anything of which you are ashamed? How do each of these relate to our values?
- What would you define as “American values”? How are these unique to our country, or are they?
- If you were describing American values to someone, what would you say?
- in one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation;
- what new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
Five. Accomplishment and moving forward
- name one important thing that was accomplished here;
- is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
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