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Thursday, November 17 | Exploring Our Political Opponents

Thursday, November 17 , 7:30 pm  |  Dialogue leaders: Jacob Hess & Shelly Jenson

Mark & Elizabeth England's home at 1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

Simple idea: Spend some time seeking to understand and empathize with your political opposite. This evening will be most successful if we come prepared with some ground-work laid as well as an open mind and heart. Then come ready to enjoy a facilitated discussion regarding what we discovered and how we might help our community and nation following the election come together in policies and actions that will create a better tomorrow.  

Think Again has become a beloved community of mostly progressives and liberals. I would love to see us, especially following this election, seek greater understanding and reconciliation with those different than us. Even better, I'd love those same people we see at times as the "crazy other" to be a part of our community and help us be better at "thinking again." 

Will you please take the time to participate in the exercises below and come prepared to share next Thursday your thoughts? The only way I see forward is through individuals and communities taking the time to see each other as fellow flawed human beings needing greater understanding, respect, and compassion for one another. This won't result in us agreeing on some of the most divisive issues (nor should it) but it will mean we can find ways to balance each other's views and beliefs in healthy and more productive ways.

Discussion leaders: Jacob Hess and Shelly Jenson are co-directors of the Utah chapter of the Village Square. Jacob leans right and Shelly to the left. 

Jacob Hess is the author of 13 peer reviewed articles exploring contrasting narratives of mental health and sociopolitical issues.  He currently directs the non-profit, All of Life which offers free online classes exploring applications of mindfulness for those facing mental health challenges. Jacob has (co)authored three books: You’re Not  as Crazy as I Thought, But You’re Still WrongOnce Upon a Time…He Wasn’t Feeling It Anymore and A Third Space: Proposing Another Way Forward in the LGBT/Religious Conservative Impasse (Disagreement Practice, Treasonous Friendship & Trustworthy Rivalry in the Face of Irreconcilable Difference). Two other projects – Red Blue Dictionary and My Science Can Beat Up Your Science, will be released this fall.  His work with Phil Neisser at State University of New York has been featured on This American Life and was recently honored by Public Conversations Project. As a proud partner of Living Room Conversationsthe Village Square and a long-term member of the National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation, Jacob’s life work is dedicated to making space for thoughtful, good-hearted people to find understanding (and affection) while exploring together the deepest of disagreements.

Shelly Jenson stems from a lineage of highly analytical and intelligent people who thought they could think their way out of the chaos-of-daily-living. Shelly gave it her best shot but failed, only to find that she valued the mind less than the sharing of hearts. And so, Shelly now spends her free-time cultivating a lifestyle in which connection, sincerity and empathy are the foundation. Shelly’s passions include silence, mediation, contemplating the infinite capacity of the human heart and discovering deep connections with the Spirit of Life in it’s many form. Above all else, Shelly adores the gift she has been given to raise two tremendously rare beings, Hannah and Nicholas, who are her greatest joy and most powerful teachers. Shelly also wonders why she needs to write her bio from the perspective of the third person: a wink and a nod to the oddities of life!

Shelly is a student of the Buddhist meditation called Vipassana. She volunteers with a local non-profit environmental group called Wild Utah Project studying sage grouse habitat and the effects of longterm cattle ranching. Shelly is a practitioner of Jin Shin Jyutsu which is the ancient Japanese art of harmonizing the life-force energy of an individual, which is derived from the natural wisdom within each of us. Her business is called Effortless Harmony and is located in Sugarhouse.  Shelly also studies ancient, indigenous ways of living at the non-traditional school called Flowering Mountain, located in New Mexico.

Consider that in very real ways, perceptions become realities. Information and experience inform our perceptions and therefore shape our reality. It follows then that we change reality by changing our perceptions through new information and experience.
  • Thoughtfully consider three ideological concepts that you appreciate about those who are politically different than you. 
  • What are three goals your political opposition wants to accomplish that you can also get behind and help advance?
  • Ask someone who voted for the candidate that you did not to share why they voted the way they did. Ask what their hopes are for our country. Ask with genuine curiosity to understand their point of view. 
  • Invite three people whom you believe to be politically different than you to come to this evening’s Think Again. 
  • Come prepared to share your thoughts and experiences.
  • Come this Saturday to some part (if not all) of the Utah Citizen Summit

Stuff to explore: