Speaking Out, The Talking Stick & Citizens Assembled
“The America I want Is…” program is about individual expression, collective listening, and citizen involvement. It’s an idea as important now as at any time in our country’s history. If you want to participate in America's future, now is the time to do so.
We at Linley Foundation have created a public forum for Americans to reflect on what we want for our country, and how our country might better serve our hopes and aspirations.There are many platforms in our virtual space to express our opinions.There are few where we are enjoined to listen. Our work is based on the simple idea that if you want to change minds, you must first bring about a change of heart. And to change hearts, we need a way to gather and deliberate together beyond sound bites and headlines.
Our Public Square
America's democratic public square is loud, exhilarating, and, frequently, hilarious. It can also be nasty, combative, and downright obnoxious. It is the nature of living in a democracy, and the price we must pay when you give ultimate authority to everyone. To live in a democracy requires civic preparation and skills. Today, the temperature in our public square is hot. The America I Want program is a form of timeout, a cooling off period. We have based it on the model of the listening circle. Our goal is not to get everyone to agree, but rather to affirm the essential democratic principles that we will not always get our way, and that must often agree to disagree.
So Much in Common
There is solid evidence Americans are united despite all the noise. It lies in the personal aspirations of each one of us. We want the freedom to be ourselves and to express ourselves. We want to grow to our full potential without unfair and contrived obstacles blocking our paths. We want economic and healthcare security. We want to live in safe neighborhoods and send our children to good schools. In sum, we want to live a life of richness through our friends while exploring our passions. These are among the aspirations that bind us together. America is simply an extension of ourselves. We are the society we admire and that we criticize.
Too Much to Ask?
Proposing dialogue as a panacea for America’s divisions might seem naïve. After all, we are living in a time of super-charged emotions, and where great fortunes are being made monetizing anger and resentment. America suffers from longstanding and unresolved constitutional, social, and political issues. Many of our issues can only ultimately be addressed in the political arena. That said, we believe our program can play an important part in bringing about change, because, in the end, the solutions begin with us--in the hearts, in the minds, and in the hands of every single American.
Inspiration in our Past
We chose the indigenous North American Talking Circle as our program's model because of its egalitarian, participatory principles, and its emphasis on deep listening and deliberation. Besides, the Talking Circle can be easily digitized to embrace the country as a whole. America's constitutional moment requires new approaches. No country has every conducted a national Talking Circle. Why not America? We have sought inspiration from our indigenous cultures—cultures which preceded the arrival of Europeans by thousands of years, and which we have almost entirely turned our backs on. Linley is using this rich tradition of governance to help move our country to a new place.
Our response to this tumultuous moment is to invite a calmer, deeper, more deliberate national dialogue. Ours is a grassroots program. We have gone straight to the people to ask them what they want for their country. Our endgame is to assemble participants and policymakers to determine how to realize the people's hopes and desires for their country. Our program is not a forum where like minded people will end up talking to one another—preaching to the choir. The America I Want reflects the great diversity of our country. So join our program! Tell us what you want for America. Let's seize this moment, as we imagine a revitalized 21st century America.
A Word From
"The America I Want is..." social media program allows Americans of all ages and throughout the land to express their hopes and dreams for their country. It offers an aspirational portrait of America by Americans. It is also an exercise in listening. We at Linley are proud to sponsor this program.