A conversation with the essay’s authors
A Facilitated Group Event
NOVEMBER 5, 2017
IPTAR Conference Room
Our first Room Roundtable was held on June 11, 2017 with approximately 20 people in attendance. All the authors who published essays in Room 5.17 were invited to participate in this public discussion. The roundtable discussion focused on Elizabeth Evert’s essay, Drafting Bridges (Room 2.17) and an essay that Jared Russell wrote called Understanding Democracy
Elizabeth maintained it was a tenet of psychoanalysis to “listen” and understand people with different views, especially when rancor runs high and divisions are deep. Jared’s essay challenged Elizabeth’s contention that empathy was necessarily a way to respond to people who held opinions we consider noxious. Jared cited a specific phrase in Elizabeth’s essay which typified for him a foreclosed and immutable position that, in his view, merited only opposition and not empathy: the view that abortion is genocide. Using the rhetoric of “genocide,” Jared suggested, politicizes a moral position and forecloses all further discussion.
One member of the audience who identified herself as an Evangelical Christian said that she did not believe that the Bible contained clear injunctions against abortion. She advocated the possibility of “working around the edges” of peoples’ thinking from inside the religion itself. C. Jama Adams (“Alone and Together”, Room 5.17) added how uncomfortable yet necessary he believed it was for everyone to learn to live between positions, even positions held to be morally untenable. He described his past work of finding unthreatening ways to provide life-saving and community building interventions to people whose religious practices included female genital mutilation. That said, from within one’s own group, Adams argued, it was essential to face contradictions and uncomfortableness directly. He used the example of liberals in New York City where de facto school segregation and gross inequality of resources make a mockery of New York’s reputation as a citadel of liberal thinking.
The next Room Roundtable will be held at
THE INSTITUTE FOR PSYCHOANALTYIC
TRAINING AND RESEARCH (IPTAR)
1651 3RD Avenue suite 205
New York City, NY 10128