Civil Dialogue and Citizenship
Navigating Our Deepest Differences
Lesson II. What is Civil Dialogue? Let's Practice
Step 6. Practice Dialogue
Find a Topic to Disagree About
Find a topic with which you and your partner disagree. Here are some statements to consider with your partner to find some disagreement.
- Any person entering the United States illegally should be arrested and deported.
- There are too many school shootings. It should be harder to own a gun.
- Schools should be allowed to discipline students with paddles and switches.
- Teenagers should only be taught sexual abstinence in public schools and should not be taught information about safe sexual practices or given contraceptives.
- Basic healthcare coverage is a human right and should be guaranteed by the government.
- Marijuana is not harmful, nor is it a gateway drug to more addictive substances. It should be legal in Utah.
- Unofficial, self-appointed militias in Utah are dangerous for the health and welfare of protesters.
- Protesting should be illegal in the United States because it devolves into looting and anarchy.
- People should not let their religion influence politics.
- Local officials always know what is better for a community than the federal government.
- Dancing in public is inappropriate and should be outlawed.
- Children under 18 are not responsible enough to drive with passengers in the car.
- The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment and should be discontinued.
- We should make the most of our lives because there is no life after death.
- Choose your own topic to disagree about with your partner.
Practice: Partner Exercise 2
For 6-8 minutes, explore your chosen topic with your partner by responding to the questions below. Before you begin, review the civil dialogue guidelines:
- Choose a mindset of openness and curiosity
- Listen generously
- Seek to understand, not debate
- Allow others to speak for themselves–do not tell others what they believe
- Reciprocate by respectfully expressing your differing point of view
- Acknowledge similarity and difference equally
Discuss these questions with your partner:
- What is it about your chosen topic that makes you feel strongly?
- What values drive those strong feelings in you?
- Explain to your your partner why you feel strongly.
- Allow your partner to explain why he or she disagrees.
- After exploring how you disagree on the topic, explore with your partner ways you might agree on the topic.