"The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization."
– Sigmund Freud
Prejudice is an aspect of the human condition. Education and diplomacy are useful, but not enough. Until humankind develops the tools to understand and resolve intergroup conflict it will remain the elephant in every room, in our personal lives and on the world stage.
Our mission is to develop these tools and make them available for everyone; to help each of us develop a greater capacity to see the world through eyes other than our own.
Talking openly and honestly with those who don’t share our beliefs is enormously difficult. People willing to invest the necessary time and energy can confront this painful reality must be given the time and space to struggle together to understand why it’s so hard. Changing Our Consciousness provides such opportunities, developing theoretical, methodological and educational tools to help facilitate such dialogues.
Rocket science begins with elementary math and develops a lengthy educational and research trajectory. Human Understanding is just as difficult and just as complex, but it's equally possible to achieve. Changing Our Consciousness represents a first step down that path.
Please join us and help start the movement to bring Human Understanding onto the world stage and the educational curriculum with the full weight, depth and complexity it deserves.
Dialogue has been the heart of our theory, research, and evolving methodology.
After years of solitary thinking about ways in which the psychoanalytic model could be applied to society at large, we launched the Waging Dialogue Forums in 2004 to discuss psychoanalysis and society. The intense conflicts that emerged in that faceless Internet arena seemed to parallel aggressive/regressive dynamics that arise on the world stage, an observation we hoped to harnass for the sake of progress. Despite our enthusiasm, dedication and hard work, the clumsiness of discussion participants in being able to identify and respond appropriately to the emotional experience of the Other became painfully obvious.
We retired the forums and invited interested participants to test a new hypothesis: that safety, empathy and creativity MAY more readily emerge in the newer, more public “social networks.” Perhaps a third party – an observing, participating and challenging “other” – can catalyze insight and change. So, in 2010 we adopted the WD model for a new project, the Depth Perception Party, a Facebook political discussion group dedicated to the discovery of creative solutions to political conflict through the ability to imagine the emotional experience of the other. Our metaphor is the struggle to develop our capacity to see out of our “right eye” and our “left eye” at the same time. When we view the world through just one eye, we cannot see depth. Using our right AND left eyes, we see in a more complex way; we focus on the horizon and move toward it. When representatives of the Right pit themselves against those of the Left, the result is bitterness and stalemate, or compromises that blur rather than sharpen our vision. Whatever perspective we favor, we must learn to understand how the opposite side sees, and find intersection points that open paths to forward movement.
Depth Perception Party has since been merged into our new group, Catalysis. Provocative questions are posted there daily, and are met with thoughtful responses and often intensely heated debate. What is unique about this group, in comparison to others we have observed on this and similar platforms, has been the retention of participants from one topic to the next and a general willingness to revert back to civility even when the previous topic became overly heated to the point of personal attacks. This is possible because participants make a commitment that they are not there merely to represent themselves or their sides. They share a desire to catalyze social change by working to understand opposing worldviews, locate short and long term horizons, support creative leadership, and imagine new solutions to longstanding political conflict. Anyone who chooses to read the threads and participate may do so. With the 2020 Presidential campaign underway, our goal and method has never been more timely.
In 2011 Changing Our Consciousness received 501(c)3 status and became a non-profit organization. If you wish to support our work, please consider signing up for our Dialogue With Dignity web conference and making a donation.