Witt: Give Meeting of the Minds a try

There’s an interesting group of people that meets monthly at the Clark County Public Library.

It’s called Meeting of Minds, a title adopted from a discussion program developed by Steve Allen and aired on PBS for a number of years in the late 1970s.

Allen’s concept was to pull together actors portraying various figures from different eras of history and have them discuss issues from the perspective of their time.

On one such program he had Martin Luther, Voltaire, Plato and Florence Nightingale discussing the Reformation.

The local Meeting of Minds was originally called the Tuesday Night Philosophy Club, but the title seemed to suggest the topics for discussion would always be about philosophy, a subject apparently deemed too limited in scope (and perhaps too dry a subject even though philosophy could certainly have occupied years of discourse).

So the group has developed into one which contemplates a vast array of subjects, everything from ideas to make Winchester a more fun place, national politics, metaphysical issues and even to such cockeyed ideas like placing the whole planet on the same time instead of having 24 time zones.

The group meets once a month, usually on the last Tuesday evening, although some meeting times get changed to accommodate holidays or other planned library functions.

The meetings typically run from 6:30 to 8 p.m., when the library closes, but some discussions have created sufficient interest to keep things going past closing time.

Fortunately, when this happens, the group has John Maruskin, head of adult library services on hand to secure things.

Speaking of John, it was he who originally came up with the idea for this group, and it must have been a good idea because Meeting of Minds has continued for about three years now and seems healthy and thriving, sufficient to keep it going into the foreseeable future.

There are no membership criteria for the group and no fees. In fact, there are almost always free coffee, bottled water and cookies for participants.

While the people who come to the group, both regulars and occasionals, are a varied crowd, they all come with the expectation they will be part of a lively discussion, one without rancor, malice, hostility, animosity, antipathy, acrimony, acerbity or enmity. And the expectations are always fulfilled.

Most leave with a feeling of not only having heard and learned opposite viewpoints, they leave understanding people with vastly different opinions can come together, discuss those opinions and depart as friends, even having won new friends in the process.

Meeting of Minds may well be the only group in Winchester which meets exclusively to discuss ideas — ideas that run the gamut of anything the human mind can conjure.

Other groups may meet to discuss specific issues, but Meeting of Minds is unique.

As a voluntary group of congenial individuals, meeting without sanction to a specific cause, it will likely never solve problems, but it can and does examine potential solutions to problems, which may, on occasion, actually result in action.

Sessions are not argumentative, except in the classical sense of the word in which argument is just a way of expressing various viewpoints, even if no final conclusion is reached.

The camaraderie of the group invites participants of all persuasions.

Give it a try sometime. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.