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Face2Face | Us and Them: How did we become so polarized? (video)

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Increasingly, public discourse is characterized by divisions between people and groups who see and understand the world differently. It is common for us to witness polarized speech played out in political spheres, in cultural 'us and them' assumptions, in urban-rural divides, and in the life of the church. This dynamic exerts a powerful effect on many of us, whatever our political or theological stripe. Building relationships of meaning and trust amongst people who see our world through vastly different lenses feels increasingly rare.

This Face2Face conversation seeks to renew the importance of healthy public and churchly discourse and help us reimagine the role of listening, dialogue, patience, and bridge-building with those with whom we differ.

Key Questions

  • What is your experience with 'polarized discourse' and how has it impacted you, or persons, groups or communities with which you connect?
  • How did we get here? What perspectives do you bring about why polarization so frequently characterizes our discourse? What has led our communities, our broader society and our churches to this place?
  • Do you see particular factors at play in our cultural, political, religious or personal lives – ie. leaders, technology / social media, isolation from people and communities other than ourselves? Is this a 'pendulum problem' which will correct itself over time, or are we facing a challenge of another sort? What in your mind has led us to where we are?
  • What do you hope for? Is it possible to hold and be true to particular 'positions' and be expansive in our engagement with those who hold other positions? Where might we go and how might we walk in a different trajectory? What picture might we imagine that points us to a better way?

Panel

  • Larry Updike
    • A former radio host (CJOB Morning Show; as well as God Talk; CBC afternoon host) with years of advocacy on behalf of various social service agencies, Larry has worked hard to bring disparate voices to a common table. Larry served as a sessional instructor in the CMU Communications and Media program a number of years ago.
  • Will Braun
    • Will is a farmer living near Morden who has worked with MCC, Geez magazine, and with northern Indigenous peoples living with hydropower projects. He writes for Canadian Mennonite magazine and is the creator of Once Around the Barn. Will's op-ed in the Winnipeg Free Press 'Firing Cherry a missed opportunity' injected a unique perspective into the conversation into which Canadians were drawn.
  • Sandy Koop-Harder
    • Sandy is a professional mediator and a partner and business manager for Facilitated Solutions. Sandy holds an MBA and CMed and has decades of experience in mediation training and Alternative Dispute Resolution. She will speak out of her personal / professional experience. Sandy also presently serves as Vice-Chair of the CMU Board of Governors.
  • Marnie Klassen
    • A fourth year Social Theology Student at CMU, hailing from Abbotsford, BC, Marine has danced along denominational edges and divides throughout her life, and is interested in empathy, dialogue, and collaboration between so-called "liberals" and "conservatives." She is currently working on a qualitative research project addressing those labels and the call to love one's neighbour.

Moderator

  • Paul Doerksen
    • Associate Professor with strong interest in this issue
 

Recorded Monday, February 10, 2020

 

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