Quick Takes

Meetings of Opposites

Quick Takes

The past – not dead; not even past, said William Faulkner – is present in our lives as a force-field governing our interactions.  The past is the track we are impelled by our common culture to follow.  Can we get outside our pasts, the experiences and recognized patterns which drive our suspicions and our grievances?

  Building a railroad is a different enterprise than riding the already-laid tracks.  We are desperate to be laying the track. Our job after Charlottesville – our philosophical and political and moral job – is to lay the track on which opposites may travel toward meeting.

The common ground of Meeting is not in the middle;  it is a different space altogether.  On the same  streets, either we fight, Us-Against-Them – as Opposites – or we create this other way of being together:  Meeting. 

Common ground is a matter of living together, not of agreement in opinions. Civility is not the cause of common ground, but the effect.

Meetings of Opposites is the scaffolding for common ground.

An idea is more real to us than a material object seen by the eye.  (Plato)

The optical illusion that we’re living in today: Us-Against-Them


Meetings of Opposites produces the actual experience of common ground among people whose opinions or positions are irreconcilable.

          Four components:

  • Investigate the nature of visual perception to reveal the mechanism which produces optical illusions.
  • Examine current discourse among us – the statues controversy in Charlottesville or any charged issue – to show the same mechanism at work.
  • Introduce a philosophical framework for distinguishing perception from being-together.
  • Participate in a series of exercises adapted from Outward Bound, to experience a way of being together different from the way perception allows and enforces.

Recognition of our perceptual automaticity, along with the personal exercises, produces affective depolarization: A FRESHENED WORLD TO LIVE INTO.

Each session of 2 ½ hours includes all four components.  I bring the workshop series anywhere in North America without charge.

Henry McHenry Jr. Charlottesville, Virginia


Quick Takes

3 thoughts on “Quick Takes

  1. Will continue our discussion on civiltalk.com and would encourage everyone thinking locally all the way to nationally who has an “us against them” situation (mine is developers vs farm preservation and environmental interests) to think about rising those issues through this process.


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