Engaging in Civil Discourse During a Time of Unrest

Time to Pause, Reflect and Start the Conversation

The intensity of the first five and half months of this year is at times difficult to comprehend.  A podcast host provided historical context that at first seems dramatic, but then gut-wrenchingly accurate: “2020 started off like 1974 (an impeachment crisis), quickly became 1918 (a pandemic), turned into 1929 (economic crash), and is now 1968 (massive urban unrest).” 

This is a painful time for our country. The events going on around all of us are heartbreaking, and The Policy Circle grieves with the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Our members around the country have expressed similar thoughts and feelings of sadness, fear, and frustration that friends and neighbors have continued to be ignored and discriminated against, or that peaceful protests have turned violent by bad actors.

Now, we are all asking, where do we go next and what can we do?

The core of our American values rests squarely on our ability to engage in robust and honest conversations, especially with those from a different race, perspective, background, or experience.  Diversity of viewpoints is critical for constructive debate and building public policies that actually provide sustainable solutions. These conversations aren’t comfortable, but they’ve never been more important. Civil discourse requires the exercise of patience, integrity, humility and mutual respect in conversation. It’s contingent on our ability to discuss topics where we might disagree, and our ability to listen to each other’s perspectives to gain a better understanding of all sides of any issue. 

The Policy Circle was established to Start the Conversation to Change the Conversation. It’s a platform to learn from each other, to discuss, to explore and set a path forward to engage. The Policy Circle offers a safe forum for thoughtful, fact-based conversations built on the following core values: 

  • We are a welcoming world-class organization.
  • We inspire civic engagement with truth and details.
  • We are purposeful in our actions to connect and convene.
  • We believe in humans flourishing in a free society and entrepreneurial economy.
  • We lead by stepping out of the box.

Karen Wells, Founder and CEO of the AIW Group and CEO of Bridge Communities, spoke at the 2019 Policy Circle Summit on civil discourse and how good leaders listen to all perspectives.

To move forward, we must be willing to listen, learn and grow together as Circles, communities and a nation.

We encourage our Policy Circle Members and Leaders to utilize our roundtable format and the skills you have developed to engage in civil discourse with people from diverse perspectives. To refresh or strengthen your skills, review how to facilitate complex conversations. We also encourage you to explore race in the context of a discussion on issues such as the fabric of neighborhoods, healthcare, education or poverty from the Policy Brief Library

Please share your stories, questions or ways to take action with us at communications@thepolicycircle.org. We are listening. 


Additional Resources and ways to take action in your community: 

  • Step outside your comfort zone and engage with someone new – perhaps, someone whose life experience is different than your own 
  • Listen and gain perspective from voices in your community 
  • Educate yourself by reading books about the history of race and racism 
  • Share positive ways that people can make a change for a more inclusive society and to effectively address racial inequalities in our communities  
  • Speak up and engage in civil discourse when you see injustice

Inform. Inspire. Develop Civic Leaders. 

Connection is at the heart of The Policy Circle’s model and mission. More than 3,500 women across the country gather regularly to learn about public policy and take action in their communities. Circles provide an open, encouraging environment that fosters friendship and purpose. We celebrate our shared love of country, community and our growing tribe of women who are changing the conversation. Please consider supporting our mission and developing your own leadership skills by becoming a financial supporter

Want to share your Policy Circle story? Email us at communications@thepolicycircle.org to learn how to get involved. And follow us on social: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.