Where Do Stereotypes Come From?

A proposal for Charlottesville Unity Days 2019

To the extent that civic relationships among us are built on our perceptions of each other, we should investigate the nature of perception.  To what extent do perceptions depend on “myth”?  What can we do to wrest control of our community relationships away from myth, and bring them back toward relationships of kin, family?  Where do stereotypes come from?

The workshop reveals the human perceptual mechanism which prevents us from breaking free of Us-Against-Them;  and it distinguishes another way of seeing the world than perception, providing an actual experience of common ground.  We start by watching an old video about visual perception, optical illusions, and the role of interpretation.  In discussions among us, we use insights from the video to examine our current cultural interactions, from online chat and newspaper letters to political arguments.

Then we distinguish another way of being together from the way of being based on perception, using philosophical excerpts from Martin Buber and others.  Finally, we engage in activities adapted from Outward Bound, to experience that other way of being together – the way that creates common ground among us.

Continuation sessions to deepen the distinction between power and love will be available recurrently after Unity Days, in venues and times to be determined.

Published by Henry McHenry Jr

Since 2012 I've been building a curriculum to create the actual experience of common ground among people whose opinions or positions are irreconcilable.

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