Join Beverly Braxton for a discussion of Visions of America: What Ties Us Together?
What does it mean to be part of the United States of America? Some people hardly think about it. Some people respond proudly "We are a city upon a hill, an example for the rest of the world. Ours is a society that is based on the idea that all people are equal in this land of opportunity. "
But when others think about our nation's past and future, they look at the people who have been left out of America's promises, and how their exclusion continues to affect us. Many things can affect how we view being American: whether we are white or black or Asian, whether we are rich or poor or middle class, whether we are straight or gay, whether we are men or women, whether we graduated from high school or not, to name just a few. How can we look at the ways in which America has drawn its boundaries? Who's "in"? Who's "out"?
Today, plenty of people are concerned that the union is threatened by our differences. Others worry that too much emphasis on melding will threaten our diversity. There are many opinions about where we are, where we have been and where we should go as a country. They fill the airwaves, the coffeeshops, the laundromats, the halls of Congress, and the media. In all of this conversation, it seems as though people are struggling to find one clear, simple answer. But in a democratic society, the only real answers are those we create together.
We, the people, make up the union of the United States of America. Conversations about what matters to us will help us understand our respective experiences of America, past and present, and our hopes for the future. Through telling our own stories and sharing our ideas and life experiences, we may find our common ground. Throughout our history, when have our experiences been the same? When have they been different? When have we helped each other? When have we hindered each other? Because we have often lived separately, or because we have had little chance to learn about our history, we may have forgotten -- or never before discovered -- how much we have in common.
These conversations may not be easy. They may touch on different ideas about power and interest, about privilege and need, and about how we value each other. Talking together will be hard work, but it begins some of the most important work we can do.
Refreshments will be served. Attendance at previous sessions is not required.