How We Can Reconcile With Each Other When Our Politics Are So Polarized

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from The Wall Street Journal,

On a Sunday afternoon earlier this month, eight Democrats, seven Republicans and one Independent attended a three-hour Zoom meeting to discuss politics. There was no screaming. No one hurled accusations or stereotypes. People thanked each other for sharing their opinions.

It felt like a miracle.

The meeting was a “Red/Blue Workshop,” conducted by Braver Angels, a nonpartisan nonprofit that was created after the 2016 election by people concerned about the increasingly polarized tone of political discourse in the U.S. The aim of these workshops is to bring people with different political views together to share their beliefs and search for commonalities. “You look for the glue, for that which binds,”

A majority of Americans—67%—believe it’s important to get along with people they disagree with politically, according to a recently released study by researchers at Harvard Graduate School of Education called “Bridging America’s Political Divide.” Eighty-three percent of the survey’s approximately 1,400 respondents said they could respect someone who disagrees with them politically as long as the person respected them back. And 80% said they would be “happy” to engage in conversations with people who have opposing political views—as long as the conversation was considerate, with neither party belittling or disparaging the other.

And yet true reconciliation will take more than good communication skills. To restore genuinely friendly relations with friends, family members and those in our communities, we need to move past our mutual hostility and heal. This will require us to listen, to try to understand why people feel differently than we do, and to find and focus on the things we have in common.

There’s an urge to break off ties right now, to claim we “can’t possibly understand” how someone could hold the views they hold.

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