Hi! This is Jim. Much of my political experience has been staying “in the closet” as a conservative. My family, friends, and most people I meet are progressive liberals. And, unfortunately, in our current culture, for many, after someone finds out you disagree with them…It is “over”…That is, they really prefer not to associate with you. I want to help change this!
Hi! My name is Luke, and I am a left-leaning liberal voter. Growing up, it was always hard to talk about politics. Arguments would be had, feelings would be hurt, and the only thing being accomplished was a further sense of distrust and alienation.
As the years passed, I watched this dynamic play out in other families, the media, and the halls of government. I began to lose faith in people. Are we doomed by nature to be in conflict and war? It reminds me of when I started learning to play soccer in early elementary school. We’d all crowd around the ball kicking and pushing each other, trying to somehow move the ball toward the goal. It was an unproductive chaos of many bruised shins! We didn’t know a better way at first though. It took our coaches to show us how to strategize, spread out, and skillfully pass the ball.
We are writing this piece together after experiencing a new way of talking about politics. We met through Braver Angels, a Lane County organization that seeks to end partisan animosity. You know that feeling of fear, anger, confusion, or maybe even hatred, that comes to mind when you think of someone in a different political party?
This is what really divides us. This is the real enemy of democracy. But it didn’t used to be this way!
Imagine, please, living in a time when trust and goodwill exist even with folks on the other side of the aisle. The “light at the end of the tunnel” that Braver Angels is offering has been surprising and refreshing. It is truly Brave to not accept the status quo, to engage in a David vs. Goliath struggle to help create positive discourse where there has been rancor, and worse. To let light into the space that we have, together, filled with darkness.
From St. Francis, to MLK, Brave people don’t care what the odds are, only that they are rowing in the right direction!
Braver Angels is unique in that conservatives and liberals are represented equally in leadership and funding. It provides a safe and fair playing field for people to respectfully debate issues. Working with Braver Angels, we don’t seek to change one another’s minds. Instead, we seek to shift the negative attitudes we have toward one another. We engage in curious inquiry with one another to help us understand each other’s views and why we believe what we believe. And, as a fortunate side-effect, often our political views do shift and expand. We find common ground and come away seeing the good in one another. Without all that negativity between us, we are able to see new options we never thought of before.
And most importantly, we are able to be neighborly again.
So, hop in our canoe, and help us row forward. Though the prevailing current may be pushing us toward jagged rocks, we really believe, with your help, we can reach that distant shore. And with that, healing for our families, churches, companies, communities, and our nation.
Right now we are a couple of members of a small group working together. But we hear the call loudly and we are eager to spread the word and find others that share the vision. Let’s take our power back and show politicians and the media how to have civil discourse again. Our unity and strength is not threatened by our diversity. There is a way of talking politics that builds community instead of tearing it apart. Won’t you join us?
To learn more about Braver Angels, contact Mary Miller at 541-301-7798 or [email protected], and visit braverangels.org/oregon.
Jim Glang and Luke Grossmiller wrote this for The Chronicle.