To the editor:
The “Bridging the Red/Blue Chasm” meeting on June 19 at the Wescott Library put on by the Better Angels Project pleasantly surprised me. I expected it to be biased like the League of Women Voters’ meeting, but it was actually conducted in a very nonpartisan and non-inflammatory way. The goal was to understand the feelings and beliefs of those who differ with us and to discover areas of commonality. Each person in each group got to state their views, but there were ground rules that everyone had to adhere to. Each group was asked, in turn, to answer specific questions while the other group was asked to listen, without reacting, and write down what they learned and what commonalities they found. Two of the questions came from the other group. After a break, the other group was asked the same questions while the first group had to listen. During the break and after the meeting, there was much civil discourse between the individual red and blue members.
It was friendly and non-intimidating. Both sides agreed the news and social media couldn’t be trusted and create a harmful culture just to increase their viewership. They also agreed we need to focus more on policy and solutions rather than bashing the other side. The last question was what takeaways they got from the meeting. Comments were: It was hard to listen without reacting; but, when we are respectful and try to understand the views of others, we can have more meaningful discussion. We also need to learn to express our own views in a polite, non-inflammatory way. The inability to have civil discourse with others creates polarization. We need workable solutions – not conflict.
It seemed individual members of both parties are interested in resolving problems; but party leadership is interested in creating conflict and division to keep themselves in power. I think we need more civil discourse so we can work together to resolve the problems in our society. I hope they do this again!