"This I Believe": Lost in Conversation

Mar 5, 2019

Author Lauren Gustafson (Jefferson High School)
Credit Rachel Lattimore

I believe in conversation – deep, thoughtful, purposeful conversation. Whether it’s in physics about the thermodynamics at play when I grab a glass of ice water, at home going over college plans with my mom, or in the newspaper room debating my advisor on the latest controversial topic in the news cycle, each conversation I’m part of expands my worldview.

The best conversation I’ve ever had took place last summer at the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. In a program simulating a UN Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, my peers and I learned to embody the principles of statesmanship, cooperation, and compromise; to think from and respect other perspectives.

Settling into a lounge after the ceremony dinner, a group of newfound friends and I began to reflect on our week and discuss issues each of us were passionate about. As evening turned to the midnight hours, our conversation tackled race relations in regard to diverse and homogenous communities, the lines between legal and social views of abortion, environmental issues, and identity. Working our way through each topic, my own thoughts about the subjects were evolving as I heard other viewpoints.

My time at the Henry Clay Center taught me the joy of a good conversation, but also the need for more conversation across the country. Being challenged in one activity to categorize issues that can be compromised on versus those that cannot be compromised on showed me how much can actually be agreed on, and participating in that late-night conversation made me realize the power of sitting down together to iron out an issue. Instead of viewing conversation as an outlet to distribute my thoughts, I’ve come to understand and appreciate it as a way to grow and understand. This I believe.