Conversations Spotlight — Better Angels

This week on Great Conversations, we’re highlighting Better Angels, fresh off their convention in early June.

There are a few things which are considered “silver bullet” issues when it comes to the modern political landscape. There are the partisan ones — life, limited government, war, immigration, income disparity, etc. — and the non-partisan ones — the national debt, term limits, transparency. And these are just a few.

The one we’re going to focus on today is: polarity as the number one problem plaguing American politics.

Though I’m not quite convinced it’s THE issue, there is a definite case to be made that, at the very least, we have a communication problem. We (the American people) have been talking past each other for decades. And more recently, social media has made it that much easier for us to find people who think exactly like us, confirm our pre-conceived ideas and inclinations.

One group has decided that this polarity should be focused on, like a laser, and conquered.

To that end, Better Angels had their National Convention this last month which was a culmination of about two years of effort in bridging the divide between right and left in the U.S. Through their “Red-Blue Workshops,” Better Angels has held hundreds of these meetings all over the country, where people get a chance to explore and understand the other side, and even their own side.

One of their earlier successes was in Southwestern Ohio with a discussion in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election:

They’ve spent the last year building on these successes, which culminated in the aforementioned convention, where they deliberated and voted upon their Principles and Program.. There are lots of ways to start conversations between political opponents, but what makes Better Angels unique and useful to that cause is the way that they tackle the labels outright, and make sure that there is balance in their workshops between the two sides. The workshops include exercises on stereotypes and something called a “fishbowl” exercise, which can be very enlightening. The bottom line is that if you feel like it’s getting more and more difficult to form and keep relationships with those from the opposite side of the political spectrum, then there is no better place to start than Better Angels.

The Better Angels Loudoun Alliance has been hosting Red-Blue workshops all over Loudoun County for several months, and more are planned (next one in October). For more information, feel free to reach out to Mel Pine at: mel@better-angels.org, or call 571-329-6530.

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