"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead

What are civic beliefs?

In general, a belief is a mental state of acceptance that certain propositions (descriptive or prescriptive) are (to a sufficient degree) true, justified, confirmed, proved, supported, demonstrated, etc.  Here are some examples of civic beliefs:

  • Politics is an inescapable feature of social life.
  • Politics will always involve the competition for and use of power, but it need not be about that alone. At bottom, politics is the process by which members of a group make choices together about how to prioritize different values.
  • Political conflict originates in the different perspectives, needs, experiences, concerns, aspirations, etc. that people bring to public choice situations.

Disagreement cannot be attributed solely to ignorance of the facts, misguided intentions, or the desire to gain advantage, do harm, etc.

The successful resolution of conflict requires that people comprehend (understand and appreciate) each other’s values and priorities.

  • Conflict often, even usually, is not “zero-sum” with regard to ends.
  • Both as individuals and in groups, people can create their own futures.  Their actions matter.  Not every problem can be solved, but many will yield to sustained human effort.
  • Members of inclusive, diversely-constituted groups are capable of dialogue and of deliberating effectively to reach sound judgments.

The success of dialogue depends on listening in order to comprehend, not to contest.

  • Listening to comprehend depends on emotional security, which can be enhanced through the use of “confirming” rhetoric (questions and comments) by participants.

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