A community of communities

A Civil Tongue: How to Talk About Tough Issues Facing Us Today

Do you find you sometimes don’t talk about important issues because you're afraid you’ll start an argument with family members, friends or co-workers that won’t end well? Have others ever stopped you from having such conversations, lest you “make trouble”?  In fact, that’s a phenomenon we’ve experienced within the walls of GJC in trying to balance freedom of expression—especially around issues of morality and justice—and shalom bayit, maintaining peace among people with divergent and often equally valid points of view.

Happily, there’s a way around the problem. The Bregman Program on Yom Kippur introduced us to a civic dialogue process that GJC is pleased to pilot. Whether you were at that program or not, you won’t want to miss this chance to model civil dialogue and foster conversation with friends, family, and fellow congregants about important issues—despite divergent opinions.

On Tuesday, December 5, 7-9 p.m., in the Silver Kiddush Lounge, we’re gathering as diverse a group of GJC members as we can to follow up on the program. Chris Satullo and Harris Sokoloff, co-founders of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania, will facilitate us in using techniques that foster listening and understanding over disputing and pontificating.  The immediate goal is to learn (or relearn) how to discover what motivates and concerns each of us, not to argue and convince. As we each use the tools in our relationships with family, friends, fellow congregants, and others, we might figure out how to bridge gaps that otherwise seem insurmountable. Our experience will thrive on the diversity of the group. So, to get the most out of this special event—whatever your point of view—we need your voice!

Bottom line: we need your voice. You are encouraged to let George Stern know you will be coming, so that we can set up accordingly, but last-minute walk-ins are welcome. $5 donation requested (but not required) at the door to foster this important work.