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Follow-up - Reuniting America: Can We Be Part of The Answer?

Monday, April 22, 2019   (0 Comments)
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129th Annual Meeting General Session on Reuniting AmericaFree video/podcast replay of the January 2019 program is now available!

The Virginia Bar Association has asked how we lawyers can correct the shredding of common civility and decency in our interactions in local and American communities. The animosities, divisions, disrespect and angers that seethe below the surface too often erupt in acrimonious “debate” or in violence. Progress and problem-solving are thwarted and alienation is a dangerous consequence. This situation is damaging us and we intend to do something about it. The VBA Committee on Special Issues of National & State Importance launched this program, co-sponsoring it with the Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the VBA and the VSB; 2019 VBA President Rich Garriott Jr. has spoken and written vigorously on the point.

Last January, VBA Past President and Special Issues Committee Chair David Landin noted that its January educational programming in several instances focused on a quest and the need for moral, ethical and visionary leadership in America for the health and strength of our futures. With that, he introduced the Reuniting America panel to discuss how lawyers, educators and community members can improve discussion and dialogue so we learn from one another, grow our communities and combat the negativities and divisions foisted on us.

The program was informative and inspirational. How to engage in conflict dialogue and discussions where there is strong difference of opinion is a skill (or set of skills) that must be taught, learned and practiced. We can disagree strongly without hating or demeaning the other person. A key theme emerging from the program it is that we all have to learn the skills (and attitudes that go with them); we must teach them to our young as well. Lawyers recognize the need to see the other side of a question and should be in a good position to encourage this attitude in others. Teaching empathy, expanding one’s capacity for empathy, is a vital and foundational educational objective.

Because the Reuniting America program called for follow-up effort, the VBA is exploring a range of actions as part of a campaign to disseminate the message and help us all learn and embrace better skills, especially in moments of disagreement. The VBA has begun its efforts in the Richmond area with an edited, shorter replay of the audio of the January program on WCVE, heard on Sunday evening, April 14, 2019.

Now, the VBA is making available in its online store, as a public service, a free copy of the full video/audio of the Reuniting America program together with the instructive program materials.

Download the Video or Podcast

A goal is to inform and inspire, to galvanize the learning of skills that will enhance our communities from family life up through neighborhood, state and nationwide dialogues.

There may be those entities, groups and individuals who thrive on or derive power from conflict and creation of divisions, hampering progress. We must combat the effects of such efforts to divide. The VBA sees our communities’ future strengths in American core values and the civil skills that can ensure their continuance.

Please view this program and stay tuned for further word on the VBA campaign for civil discourse.

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