Putting civility back into civil discourse

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By David Sarasohn, The Rotarian Magazine

The woman sitting at the end of the carefully arranged tables looks as though she would rather be someplace else — maybe at her real estate agency, maybe just with people she knows, people who see the world the way she does. But a friend asked her to come here, and she agreed, and she will carry out her role.

“It’s not my notion of a family,” she says firmly, her chin set as she explains the burden of holding conservative views in a liberal town. “It’s my truth of a family. I don’t want my views to be considered hate speech. But I don’t want to celebrate things that I don’t celebrate.”

At least half the people sitting around the table disagree with her. But none of them show it, not by a snort, or an impassioned interruption, or even a rolled eyeball.

It’s almost as if she’s in a place, and a moment, where people actually talk to each other — and listen to each other.

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