The Asteroids Club
It might be plausibly maintained that in almost every one of the leading controversies. . . both sides were in the right in what they affirmed, though in the wrong in what they denied; and that if either could have been made to take the others' views in addition to its own, little more would have been needed to make its doctrine correct. -- John Stuart Mill, 1849
(See an example of an event here.) The Asteroids Club has absolutely nothing to do with Astronomy. But America's looming problems may as well be asteroids, as they are hurtling at us through time, heading straight toward an impact that looks certain to those of us on planet earth.
Or at least impact looks certain to about half of us.
Ask anyone on the right side of the aisle and they'll tell you that America's budget deficit will doom us and our children and without a course correction, one that almost certainly involves changes to popular programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Or maybe you lean left and you are concerned about the mounting evidence that global warming is very real, and that without affirmative action beginning now, we endanger everything about the quality of the lives we can lead on the planet.
Problem is - despite much evidence that both concerns are valid and impact may be all too imminent, we spend all of our civic energy ignoring the arguments of the other "side", while vehemently advancing our own. We're doing a lot of talking (often screaming) and precious little listening. This habit - of course - does nothing to solve either problem.
Turns out this challenge isn't particularly surprising if you study human nature. It's part of our moral psychology to choose up teams and work in cooperation with those teams, it's how human beings have achieved advanced civilization. Our moral nature both binds us together in these groups and blinds us to information that contradicts our group's most deeply held convictions.
The Asteroid Club gives proper deference to the fact that each political ideology is able to perceive certain threats more clearly. It gives them a full opportunity to explain what they see coming at us.
At the Asteroid Club, we also do our best to take off our blinders and understand what is ultimately true. Try as we might to selectively "fact" find to support our most earnestly held ideologies, sooner or later the chickens of factual distortion come home to roost. Decisions made using bad facts tend to yield bad results, no matter how much we wish it weren't true.
At the Asteroid Club we try hard to stay on the same team, the American team. At the Asteroid Club: I'll help you deflect your asteroid, if you help me deflect mine.
Any time two people with differing political identities mutually acknowledge that the other side may see some real threats more clearly than does one's own side, the Asteroids Club has been convened.
See how easy it is? You can use your own creativity and imagination for the rest of it.
The Village Square will sponsor its first Asteroids Club in February. It will be convened by two local community leaders who are real friends but who have different political ideologies. We are developing a formal model for the Club, with invited panelists to help our two conveners make their case, a timed program format and an audience. They will take turns explaining their asteroid then trying to understand their friend's asteroid. An audience will join in and the whole affair will be recorded to be aired on the radio. You can see the event page for this program HERE. You can open a pdf describing our proposed programming fully here.
But as long as your event begins with two people who have a relationship on opposite sides of the political divide committed to the concept, you can take it where you want it to go. Your event can be as simple as a great dinner with diverse friends.
Debates seem to confirm our preconceived positions more than they help us understand someone with a different view. The Asteroids Club is more about listening than arguing. Debates are good sport, but don't seem to really ever get us anywhere. They certainly don't help us understand. Human nature being what it is, we usually just leave with an quiver full of new arrows to use against a future opponent.
Use this user-editable website to make your own Asteroids Club event page to explain your concept, advertise your event, and sign-up participants. Simply click "+Add" on the top right of this page, then select "page" in the dropdown menu. Choose "Asteroids Club" as your template and the page will be created with the basics already on it. This page is organized into three columns and will stay that way as long as you leave the "div" tags in place. Or you can also not choose a template when creating your page and you will start with a blank page.
After you set up your page, go to this page and download the graphics, then go to your page and click on "Tools" on the top right menu, then select "Attachments" in the dropdown menu and upload the graphics onto this page. Your page will now have all the basics on it.
Use free programs like Survey Gizmo or Survey Monkey to collect contact information on people who'd like to join your event. Questions? We're always available to help you set up your page at (850) 264-8785 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.