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December 9, 2004

Community Values Dialogue

FINDING COMMON GROUND: Dispensing with Fear

Moderated by Gregory Gray, with guest artist Julie Landsman

Join your neighbors for the 5th annual conversation on values and issues. 90 minute dialogue followed by a 60 artist's session.

6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Free and open. Bring someone who thinks differently than you do.

Gregory Gray and Renee Covington Gray, Julie Landsman, Bill Cottman, Earcie Allen, Bobby Colbert, Debra Stone, TamaLin (one of our new Asian Media Access neighbors), Fred Olson, and George and Bev Roberts gathered around the conversation table and after a few minutes of schmoozing, got down to work. "How do we find common ground?" and "Is that notion possible?" and "If so, how do we do it?" Ideas ranged from the notion we each have something we want to hold on to as a common human experience to viewing our diversity as also our threat were explored, gently and enthusiastically.

We visited the notion of "the other" and how sometimes it is difficult to put ourselves into that other person's place, to even want to explore the story of someone with whom we so radically disagree.

We seemed to be reaching for a elusive idea, taking unexpected turns one way then the other. The passion and the respect made our deliberations exhilarating. And we wondered aloud about how to invite some of those "others" - who care as passionately about issues too but in ways quite different from us - to the table.

Finally, at Julie Landsman's quiet urging, using poetry as her examples, we wrote for a while, using the repeated phrases I fear..., I fear..., I fear... and I want..., I want..., I want... As we read aloud from these pieces two things were revealed. First, we learned to know and to love our friends around that table in new ways. Second, we discovered how to begin the process of understanding and accepting the "other" by noticing the common ground among ourselves.

From TamaLin Fox:

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this discussion. It was wonderful to hear the thoughts of others and to hear that most believed it is possible to find common ground among core values within our belief systems.

Tonight I watched the movie Tae Guk Gi, about the Korean war and two brothers caught up in it. If you can stomach the violence, it is an excellent movie and is showing for this week only at the Lagoon. It truly depicts one of the topics of discussion that evening: "us and them," how those lines are formed, how they are sometimes greyed; and how and when do you choose?

Tae Guk Gi was extremely emotional for me as a South Korean, but one does not have to be Korean to feel the pain. (Interesting that I felt the need to note I was from the South. I wonder if that was merely factual or something else...) This movie shows how our values and beliefs can tear countries, groups, and families apart. What happens when we think in terms of "us and them." And of what we can become capable.

Often it is necessary to think in terms of black and white. Yet compassion moves us into the grey area and it is sometimes difficult to choose right or left, yes or no, either/or. Our intellect is a wonderful thing and has advanced our societies in beautiful ways. And yet it presents a myriad of options and one "but" after another. Sometimes we must let go of thought and allow ourselves to feel.

As our society advances and therefore grows, so does the need for more laws. It is impossible to write laws for every situation and every circumstance and so the law tends to be black and white. Those writing the laws have the advantage and thus comes power. Which is where we are today. Which group will have the power?

I believe there is a more powerful law within each and every one of us which can truly turn our society around and that is the law of love. For those of you who have felt the power of unselfish and unconditional love for another, you know of what I speak.

It is not too late to look at your brothers and sisters and love them. Love does not care if you are red or white. Love does not care where you went to school. Love does not care where you live or what you have on. It simply loves. Love wants the best for you. Love wants to see you move forward and not hold you behind. Love does not even have to understand; it just loves.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts. Thank you for embracing me as I join your community. I look forward to many more conversations and joining you in making our world a world of LOVE.

From Debra Stone:

Again Homewood Studios plays such an important role in the neighborhood. Thanks
George and Beverly for the courage and modeling of good citizenship by turning a pickle factory into a place of beauty and deep thought.

Looking forward to December 2005 dialogue!