The recent tweets shaming talk show host Ellen DeGeneres because she, a liberal, sat next to President Bush, a Republican, represents the polarization that is overtaking our political system.
DeGeneres had a response on her television show saying, be kind. You don’t have to agree with someone to be friends with them. Just be kind.
This incident highlights the need for Better Angels, a national organization whose main goal is to de-polarize America by helping people learn how to have civil and meaningful discussions with people with whom they don’t agree. By bringing red and blue Americans together into a working alliance, Better Angels is building new ways to talk to one another, participate together in public life, and influence the direction of the nation.
A Wisconsin Alliance of Better Angels was formed this past summer with Waunakee resident and former State Representative Susan Vergeront as Co-director along with Cameron Swallow from Kenosha. Their goal is to work at the state and local level, forming community alliances that hold workshops that help people learn how to have non-combative conversations with people who have opposite views.
Vergeront said, “I believe Better Angels can be key in healing the divides, repairing our broken politics, on the individual and government level. We need an electorate and government officials who know how to work towards finding common ground, and policy solutions.”
By creating opportunities for meaningful discussions, Better Angels works to dial down the heated rhetoric that gets in the way of real conversations and accurate understanding of our differences. The objective is not to push an agenda or change participant’s minds, but rather to provide a safe place for deeper understanding.
The Waunakee Alliance is being formed and plans to have a documentary on the organization shown at the Waunakee Library, and Waunakee Rotary will host a skills training workshop in the near future.