Manifesto for the Radical Middle

  • September 9, 2019
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Manifesto for the Radical Middle

For KRCL Radio, Salt Lake City, 2019-2020

by Dr. Dave Derezotes, Director, Peace & Conflict Studies, University of Utah


Are we more polarized than ever today? Practically everyone seems to think so, and sometimes it appears that this is the only thing we all can agree on – that we are currently unable to cooperate for the common good.

On the global level, for example, although the evidence for human-caused climate change is now overwhelming, and scientists tell us we have less than two decades to avoid catastrophic consequences, nations seem unable to agree upon on a strategy for positive change. On the national level, politicians appear to prioritize their domination of their opponents over finding win-win solutions to such challenges as immigration, refugees, gun control, abortion, infrastructure, and protection of our natural resources. On the local level, we often struggle to cooperate across the divides of politics, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, and race.

However, our experience of conflict is not new or unique. Human beings have always had intergroup conflict, across all historical eras, cultures, and localities. What is perhaps most different now is that the stakes are higher than ever before. Such “global survival threats” as over population, deterioration of the well-being of our anthromes and biomes, proliferation of nuclear weapons, global warming, and mass casualty terror endanger our survival, or at least the survival of future generations. Our tendency to seek conflict today may itself be a defense; an unconscious way to avoid such painful feelings as the vulnerability, disempowerment, frustration, fear, and sadness that we may all share about our complex and changing world.

Humanity is being challenged to grow up. Humanity’s advancements in the development of communication, transportation, construction, manufacturing, bio-engineering, and energy technologies continue to outstrip the development of conscious and loving relationships with each other, other living species, and the ecosystems  that support all life on Earth.  

In response to these challenges, the Radical Middle program provides a local public space for dialogue and community action.  We believe that it is possible for human beings to learn to cooperate and work together for the common good. We believe that we can empower ourselves to see the world the way it is, listen to others, speak our own minds and hearts, and engage with each other in transformative and cooperative actions.

The purpose of dialogue is to create the relationships that are necessary for cooperation. We will provide opportunities for dialogue between people who have differences of opinion and experience intergroup conflict. We will ask all participants to adhere to the “Ground rules for dialogue” that are attached to this document. We will also ask dialogue participants to work towards co-creating agreements for community action. Such agreements are “win-win” arrangements in which both sides make compromises for the common good.


Dialogue ground rules


Do Not

Listen for understanding


Speak respectfully

Make negative gestures

Speak for myself

Make others wrong

Offer amnesty

Do side talk

Own my own biases, judgments, projections

Do teaching and preaching

Wait three turns before speaking again

Diagnose each other