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Courage to Confront Discussion Group

All around us, opportunities occur in our everyday lives to address issues of hatred and intolerance that emerge from time to time. Unfortunately, few are adequately equipped to address such issues effectively, often due to an inability to de-escalate rising tensions and other factors. Sometimes we are too emotionally triggered to respond appropriately. Sometimes we fail to recognize the impact of the way we are communicating on others.The Courage to Confront Discussion Group, however, provides an opportunity for interested persons to actively discuss these issues, as well as strategies for addressing them, in order to enable us to tackle these issues in a calm, principled, reasoned and timely manner.           

Any adult interested in exploring these issues is welcome. The meeting begins with a a brief talk talk or hypothetical example posed on a relevant topic chosen by either the facilitator (a museum volunteer) or a group member. Topics have included the subjects of prejudice, Martin Luther King's letter from Birmingham Jail, religion, Koran-burnings, funeral-picketing by a religious group. The facilitator then elicits responses from group members, e.g., the pro’s and con’s of a particular strategy or approach for the issue raised, with emphasis on practical steps that broaden understanding and avoid unnecessary alienation. The group also provides emotional support for those who need it, e.g. a person who wants to engage a co-worker or supervisor in conversation about a certain issue (such as ethnic or sexist jokes in the workplace) but feels anxious about doing so.    

The discussion group operates in an atmosphere of respect, dignity, and compassion.  We attempt to create a sacred space in order to allow everyone present to speak from their hearts.  Forms of communication that promote divisiveness are discouraged, such as interrupting, monopolizing, lecturing, and moralizing. There is no pressure or coercion for any individual to think in a particular way or undertake a particular action but no baiting or disruptive conduct is allowed either. The object is to create a safe environment where people feel free to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings at a deep level, in order to support each other to make a powerful difference in the world. So if you’ve ever wanted to behave differently in an interaction involving issues of racism, sexism, or other manifestations of hatred and intolerance, this may be the group for you.   

Our meetings take place the third Sunday of each month (call museum at 247-0606 for new date if scheduled date falls on a holiday), from 2 to 4 p.m. in the museum.

Join us as we move forward
in community to make
the world around us a better place.

 

THOUGHT-PROVOKING QUOTATIONS

ANGER

It’s my rule never to lose me temper till it would be detrimental to keep it.
- Sean O’Casey 1880-1964, Irish dramatist

ARGUMENT

We arg’ed the thing at breakfast, we arg’ed the thing at tea,
And the more we arg’ed the question, the more we didn’t agree.

- William Carleton 1794-1869

BELIEFS

Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day. 
-
Bertrand Russell 1872-1970, British philosopher and mathematician

I am always of the opinion with the learned, if they speak first.
-
William Congreve 1670-1729

CHANGE

One of the things I learnt when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself I could not change others.
-
Nelson Mandela, 1918-    South African statesman, elected President in 1994

Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.
-
Martin Luther King, Jr.  1929-68,  American civil rights leader

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. 
- Max Planck 1858-1947, German physicist

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
- George Santayana 1863-1952, Spanish-born philosopher and critic,The Life of Reason (1905)

No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible, until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.
- John Stuart Mill 1806-73,  English philosopher

COURAGE

Del dicho al hecho hay gran trecho.
(It’s a far cry from saying it to doing it.)

- Old Mexican folk saying

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
-
Stephen Grellet 1773-1855, “Treasure Trove”

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”  And he replied:  “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
- Minnie Louise Haskins 1875-1957, God Knows. 

Who has courage to say no again and again to desires, to despise the objects of ambition, who is a whole in himself, smooth and rounded?
-
Horace 65-8 B.C.E. Roman poet and philosopher, Satires

Rise!  for the day is passing, And you lie dreaming on;The others have buckled their armour, And forth to the fight are gone:  A place in the ranks awaits you, Each man has some part to play. The Past and the Future are nothing. In the face of the stern To-day.
- Adelaide Ann Procter 1825-64

The better part of valor is discretion.
-
William Shakespeare 1564-1616, King Henry IV

FREEDOM

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.  If that is granted, all else follows.
- George Orwell 1903-50, English novelist, Nineteen eighty-four (1949)

HATRED

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
- Nelson Mandela 1918-  South African statesman, elected President in 1994   Long Walk to Freedom, 1994

INDIFFERENCE

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.  The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.  The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.  And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.   
- Elie Wiesel 1928-  Romanian-born American writer and Novel Prize winner; Auschwitz survivor

INJUSTICE

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-68, American civil rights leader, Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise.
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.
-
Langston Hughes 1902-67,  American writer and poet (‘Justice’)

INVISIBILITY

When someone, let’s say a teacher, speaks of the world and you are not in it, it’s like looking into the mirror and seeing nothing.
-
Adrienne Rich 1923-    American poet and critic

LANGUAGE

One of our defects as a nation is the tendency to use what have been called ‘weasel words.’  When a weasel sucks eggs the meat is sucked out of the egg.  If you use a ‘weasel word’ after another, there is nothing left of the other.
-
Theodore Roosevelt 1858-1919, American statesman, U.S. President 1901-09

MAJORITY OPINION

One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as it is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
-
Bertrand Russell 1972-1970, The Conquest of Happiness (1930)

The fact that an opinion has been so widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible. 
-
Bertrand Russell 1972-1970, Marriage and Morals (1929)

MISCELLANEOUS

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.  
- Martin Luther King, Jr.  1929-68,  American civil rights leader

We must indeed all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin 1706-90 American inventor and statesman (remark to John Hancock at the signing of the Declaration of Independence)

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
-
Martin Luther King, Jr.  1929-68,  American civil rights leader

If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.
- Jean Cocteau 1889-1963,  French dramatist and film director

Only very slowly and late have men come to realize that unless freedom is universal it is only extended privilege. 
- Christopher Hill, 1912-   British historian

It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees. 
-
Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919, Mexican revolutionary leader

PRINCIPLE

That happy sense of purpose people have when they are standing up for a principle they haven't really been knocked down for yet.
- P.J. O'Rourke 1947-   American humorous writer, Give War a Chance, 1992

SILENCE

Take sides.Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
- Elie Wiesel, 1928-  Romanian-born American writer and Novel Prize winner; Auschwitz survivor

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist; and then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist; and then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew; and then … they came for me …and by that time there was no one left to speak up.
- Martin Niemoller 1892-1984, German Protestant theologian who survived Sachsenhausen and Dauchau concentration camps

Ships that pass in the night and speak to each other in passing; only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life we pass and speak to one another, Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807-1882, American Poet, The Theologian's Tale

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.
- Unknown

A word once let out of the cage cannot be whistled back again.
- Horace, 65-8 B.C.E., Roman poet and philosopher, Epistles

SPEAKING UP

I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard!
- William Lloyd Garrison 1805-79 Anti-slavery Abolitionist, Salutory address of The Liberator, 1831

 

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.  With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do…. Speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon-balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-82, American poet and philosopher

TRUTH

Truth without love is brutality.  Love without truth is sentimentality.
-
12-step principle

It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of truth.
- John Locke 1632-1704, political philosopher, Essay on the Human Understanding

 

 

UNDERSTANDING

The fact that for a long time Cubism has not been understood and that even today there are people who cannot see anything in it, means nothing. I do not read English, an English book is a blank book to me. This does not mean that the English language does not exist.
- Pablo Picasso 1881-1973, Spanish painter

Is it so bad, then to be misunderstood?  Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.  To be great is to be misunderstood.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-82, American poet and philosopher