The Common Good

Engaging with "A More Perfect Union"

Like many (I hope most) people, I was deeply moved and impressed by Senator Obama's speech on race. Almost as interesting as the speech itself have been the responses to it, which usually come in the form of opinions:the speech was good or bad or didn't go far enough or went too far, and so on.

Opinions often don't tell us much about the content of the speech - it's truth, beauty, or goodness - they tell us more about the perspective, bias, fears, hopes, and interests of the commentator. I hope we can go beyond talking about the speech to talking about America and the state of race relations in America. I hope we can go beyond offering old and often utterly predictable opinions and instead, through honest engagement and dialogue about the speech, seek to have our opinions modified and improved and deepened, and perhaps even challenged and changed.

We have many places for people to react and practice opinion-giving and other forms of punditry, but what we seem to lack is space for people to have a more generous and generative kind of intelligent shared reflection and consideration. So I decided it might be worthwhile to offer some commentary on the content of the speech along with questions for conversation so that people could download the text, make copies of it, and read it through together - stimulating potentially constructive dialogue about a truly important subject.

The best case scenario would be for mixed groups to read and discuss the speech together

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