American Creed

Overview
American political leaders of all kinds throughout history have pointed out that American identity revolves around a set of ideals – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In his most famous speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described America’s creed as an unfulfilled “promissory note” based on the idea that everyone deserves freedom, fairness, and equal opportunity to pursue happiness and advancement. People of good will often fundamentally agree, yet we struggle to find way to effectively work together.

Related Resources
  • Learn all about Living Room Conversations here.
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  • View our tip sheet for hosting your own conversation here
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Round 1 (~5 minutes)

Introductions: Why We're Here

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.
 
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
Round 2 (~5 minutes)

Conversation Agreements: How We'll Engage

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud.
 
Be curious and listen to understand.
Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
  
Show respect and suspend judgment.
People tend to judge one another. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
  
Note any common ground as well as any differences.
Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may arise and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
  
Be authentic and welcome that from others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
  
Be purposeful and to the point.
Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the question you are answering. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
  
Own and guide the conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation as a whole. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.
Round 3 (~8 minutes)

Question Set #1: Get to Know Each Other

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
Round 4 (~2 minutes)

Read the Topic Overview

One participant can volunteer to read the topic description. 

American political leaders of all kinds throughout history have pointed out that American identity revolves around a set of ideals – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In his most famous speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described America’s creed as an unfulfilled “promissory note” based on the idea that everyone deserves freedom, fairness, and equal opportunity to pursue happiness and advancement. People of good will often fundamentally agree, yet we struggle to find way to effectively work together.
Round 5 (~25 minutes)

Question Set #2: Listen and Share to Understand

Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.

  • What core values do you think Americans fundamentally agree on?
  • What is the promise of the United States to its citizens? To the world?
  • Are we as Americans, living up to our promise to each other?
  • What issues might people of good will work together on because we are in fundamental agreement?
Round 6 (~10 minutes)

Question Set #3: Reflect on the Conversation

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
Round 7 (~5 minutes)

Say Goodbye and Take the Survey

Each participant should say goodbye to the group, then complete one of more of the following next steps (we especially appreciate your feedback!): 

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.