Can the Prius Liberal Get Along with the Pick-Up Conservative? Posted on May 29 2013

By Meg Jordan

Since the Reagan era, it's no debate that the U.S. has grown increasingly divided along political fronts. With the rise of opinion-laden media, pundit "news" shows, PACs, and prolonged elections filled with vitriol and opponent-bashing, the foundational nature of a democratic process based on compromise is endangered.

"When people of opposing opinions can longer hold respectful conversations, we have a breakdown in our ability to empathize, grow in understanding and reach resolution," explains Dr. Meg Jordan, a behavioral health specialist and coach, and Professor and Department Chair of Integrative Health at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Jordan hosts monthly salons in which people (often neighbors) with polarized views hold facilitated conversations of "merit and meaning" in which they reach common ground.

"If a facilitator can apply the principles of health psychology and positive coaching, then people can engage in a discovery process, and they move from entrenched positions that are argumentative and dismissive to a place where curiosity and mutual values are discussed...often with delight and surprise," she explains.

Jordan recommends an organization, "Living Room Conversations," for guidelines on how anyone can set up these conditions. Useful for resolving conflicts regarding everything from local neighborhood conditions to disagreements about parenting, kids, noise, parking, play areas, school, zoning, rental arrangements and more.

The concept was organized by leaders from the Left and Right: and Tea Party co-founders, Joan Blade and Mark Meckler. They decided to have a conversation, bringing a few friends for support, and found that their real selves emerged, bringing up core issues, beliefs, and found that their innovative .

The concept is based on the tenet that citizens want collaborative solutions more than they want to stay entrenched in adversarial views with no forward momentum to resolve the urgent societal problems of today: immigration reform, educational reform, infrastructure rebuilding, criminal justice reform, and gun violence.

Jordan explains: When the divisive media represents our views, instead of people themselves, then we never get to hear that common ground where different viewpoints actually share and empathize with each other's core values.

Living Room Conversations is a means for taking back our country and setting it on a middle path to prosperity and collaborative growth and resolution once again.

Learn how to hold a living room conversation >>

Dr. Meg Jordan

Professor Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, CWP, is Department Chair of Integrative Health Studies and Somatic Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where her focus is preparing graduate students as catalysts for positive change in health care, wellness and health promotion. Dr. Jordan is a clinical medical anthropologist, an award-winning international health journalist, behavioral medicine specialist, RN, author, and President of Global Medicine Enterprises, Inc.



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