I’ve been enjoying Krista Tippett’s Civil Conversations Projects where she fosters conversation, not debate, on a hot-button topic. We’re talking abortion, gay marriage – the big political, moral and religious issues that folks stay away from at dinner parties because of the emotion and strong feelings they bring out. explains:

The Civil Conversations Project is a series of four public events and media experiences of politically counter-cultural relationship at work… Most of us — wherever we are along the spectrum of liberal or conservative — feel alienated and unrepresented by the hyper-partisan deadlock that distorts and strangles our common deliberation of the truly pressing issues before us.


These conversations are a way of “building political bridges” and you can watch or listen to them at on through itunes.

In the 10/10/12 discussion on Marriage, I was really struck by something David Blankenhorn, the founder and president of the Institute for American Values, said about doubt:

Mr. Blankenhorn: …I think that doubt and civility are friends. They go together kind of like, you know, coffee and cream. They’re partners. Um, by civility, I mean treating the other person the way you would want them to treat you. And by doubt, I mean believing that you may not be right even when your position is passionately held.

Ms.Tippett: You wrote this: “What I need as a doubting person is the wisdom of the other.”

Mr. Blankenhorn: See, because if I don’t have any doubt, I don’t need you. I should be nice to you out of manners, but I don’t need a relationship with you. I may want you to be available to be lectured by me so that you can come to the correct view and I may want to treat you politely for that reason, but I don’t really need you. As I grow older, I grow in doubt and that’s good. And I feel like that that’s a healthier way to be. And if I am not sure that I have the full truth of the matter, I need you.

Civility allows me to have a relationship with you. It feeds me what I need.

Doubt opens the door for widsom, learning, relationships and friendship because we need “the other.” Doubt creates space for change and innovation because we’re not “set in our ways” or 100% positive.  Relationships change people and knowing that I don’t have all the answers encourages me to foster relationships, even those who are different.

As I grow older, I grow in doubt and that’s good.

says Mr. Blankenhorn. And I agree, I’m growing in doubt and I’m seeing the benefits.

the politics of food

Hot political topics include abortion, national defense and taxes, but food?  Haven’t seen many political debates on that topic! According to the USDA less than 2% of Americans make a living farming. So it would seem that the other 98% don’t need to worry about the food policies such as the Farm Bill. But food legislation impacts much more than farmers!

Food policy affects the environment, climate change, health care and, considering how much food we import from other nations, food is even a national security issue.

As Michael Pollan writes in his October 9, 2008 NY Times op-ed Famer in Chief,

“It must be recognized that the current food system — characterized by monocultures of corn and soy in the field and cheap calories of fat, sugar and feedlot meat on the table — is not simply the product of the free market. Rather, it is the product of a specific set of government policies that sponsored a shift from solar (and human) energy on the farm to fossil-fuel energy.”

The current government policies favors mono-cultures–specifically corn, soy, wheat and rice–which in turn are overproduced.  The surplus of these grains is processed to become things like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated soybean oils and to feed cattle.  When you consider the economics, it makes sense that corn and soy based products appear in a vast array of processed foods – from chips to TV dinners to salad dressing.

But does is it worth the sacrifice of our land, health and more?

This food pyramid from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine gives the issue a good visual:

Loads more info on the Farm Bill here.