Civil discussion and emotional issues

January 17, 2013

Recent conflicts over the fiscal cliff and gun control have renewed focus on the importance of civil discussion in the wake of disagreements.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: The National Institute for Civil Discourse was founded at the University of Arizona one month after the January 2011 shootings in Tucson with the goal of reducing inflammatory rhetoric in public life. Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer is Executive Director of the Institute. Lukensmeyer says emotional issues like gun control can be the most challenging when it comes to finding common ground.

CAROLYN LUKENSMEYER: People come from very deep places that are emotionally grounded in their experience, so it may be fear of violence. It may be fear of not being able to own a gun. But once someone is coming from that place internally, it’s very difficult for them to engage in a discussion with people who think differently than they do.

GOLDSTEIN: Lukensmeyer says one encouraging sign is that small bipartisan groups of federal lawmakers have been coming together to find complex solutions on policies such as immigration reform.

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