“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.” – Thomas Jefferson 1820.
Amidst the susurrus of summer cicadas and the cornbread-colored light of the setting sun, a community of politically concerned citizens gathered in the reconstructed Statehouse in St. Mary’s City, Md. Upon the very ground of the first capital of Maryland, eighteen members of the community met and discussed topics such as tolerance, disenfranchisement, fear, justice, and democracy.
Kathleen Glaser, a facilitator with the Center for Courage and Renewal, led the three-part series which concluded with this gathering. Among the participants were Senator Steve Waugh (R – District 29), Regina Faden (executive director, Historic St. Mary’s City), and Michael Glaser (professor emeritus of St. Mary’s College of Maryland). Dr. Glaser stated: “the need for all of us to practice listening and holding space for diverse opinions while still focusing on intelligent, fact-based discussions is more important than ever.”
The evening began with small group conversations where each member of the group had four minutes to discuss their political concerns. Then, the group gathered in a circle and discussed issues as a whole. Though the opinions of the community were dissimilar, ultimately the community was able to engage in thoughtful discourse. While no further sessions are planned at this time, it is the hope of the participants that the conversations will continue during the upcoming election season.
For more information on the Center for Courage and Renewal visit: www.couragerenewal.org
For more information on Historic St. Mary’s City visit: www.hsmcdigshistory.org
For more information on Senator Waugh visit: http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/05sen/html/msa17040.html