A contributed perspectives piece by Chris Heatwole Moore
The Coronavirus pandemic and the current vitriolic election campaigns have underscored the intense political and social divisions that we face as a nation and as a community. If our union and our local communities are to remain intact, it is crucial that people of goodwill foster understanding across partisan divides. Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming election, we will continue to live and work together. Hopefully, we can do so in ways that rebuild trust in our institutions and in one another.
Braver Angels is a citizens’ organization of conservative and liberal individuals working together to overcome polarization in American Society. Braver Angels invites these individuals to bring strong convictions to conversations with others holding opposing views, and practice civil discourse. Braver Angels hosts meetings, forums and debates that bring the two sides together to listen to those with differing views with the goal of understanding one another, not changing opinions. The overarching goal is for individual citizens to better understand their own perspectives and the perspectives of those with whom they disagree. With this understanding, it is possible to move beyond fractious and dehumanizing political rhetoric to conversations in which disagreements can even be productive.
Braver Angels is currently focusing on two initiatives – “With Malice Toward None” and “Hold America Together;” both are essentially calls to gather people together locally to talk about the divisive patterns that are occurring around the election. With Malice Toward None was developed first with the idea of having some groundwork conversations before the election and then meeting again afterward to process the results in ways that avoid demonizing people with opposing views. Hold America Together was launched more recently as the political rhetoric has become even more charged and more people express concern or fear that this election might generate actual violence and/or lasting harm to the substance of American democracy. The Hold America Together initiative encourages small groups to gather and prepare to engage their local communities in civil civic discourse in the event of an election crisis. As part of this effort, Braver Angels has published a letter inviting Americans to disavow election-related violence and use our differences to strengthen, not divide us. I have signed the letter and invite you to do the same. It can be found at https://braverangels.org/hat.
Chris Heatwole Moore lives in Harrisonburg and works as a family nurse practitioner.
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