Following their debate at Denison University in Ohio, students agreed that something profound took place and that the experience had changed them. “I’m asking myself how I can carry this forward to other students,” one student said, “and even more, I’m wondering how we can expand and bring it to a multiplicity of campuses.”
We must go beyond the anger and vengeance of those who see us as the sinners, and focus on the narratives that create it.
We cannot trust each other if we cannot tolerate the differences in our points of view. Still, aren’t some views wrong and perhaps dangerous as well? Braver Angels members and followers deserve a clear understanding of the principles that guide us. That is why we have published these Braver Angels Guidelines on Tolerance so that everyone who participates in and observes Braver Angels may understand exactly what informs our editorial and programming decisions.
On April 3, Braver Angels and the world lost one of our best leaders. When we lost David Iwinski — a thinker, a bridge builder, and a believer in America — I and many members of our community also lost a beloved friend.
Probably the most important question about social conflict, then, is not whether it exists (it does), or whether we can eliminate it (we can’t), or even whether we should try to eliminate it (we shouldn’t). The real question is how we should approach it.
Each of us is a product of our experiences. Understanding them helps us see that which makes the other human. This seems particularly important to me as we watch the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson unfold.
I think it’s safe to say most of us have been involved in heated political discussions with family or friends, whether we initiated them or not. But what flipped the switch from polite family discussions about whose turn is it to go pick up groceries to tense discussions about politics?
We already have the other ingredients that have helped stabilize and soothe Northern Ireland. We have the hope; we Americans are an optimistic people. We also have the intent, as seen abundantly in what Braver Angels and like-minded organizations are pushing so hard for.
This week we released an interview with Lorenzo Murphy, once righthand man to one of the most powerful drug dealers in America during the crack cocaine era: Freeway Rick Ross. The crack era gave rise to the phenomenon of mass incarceration, the decline of inner-city life and a new age of distrust between African-American communities and police. Our current controversies over race cannot be understood without an understanding of what happened to America—and black America—during this particular period of time.
It is so much easier to talk about people who disagree with us than with them. But there’s no other way when we’re this polarized, I’ve realized, to let our real perspectives check, challenge, and enrich one another. Nor is there any other way to look past our perspectives to the experiences and values that shaped them — the paths different people walk to their views.
How does one actresses controversy reveal the larger tensions between the African American and Asian American communities?
And indeed, my feelings about the two issues are fairly similar. Given the numbers, I feel that both pit bulls and guns should be subject to fairly aggressive restrictions. But my certainty over these issues is weakened by my understanding of the good-faith concerns and beliefs of those on the other side.
Talking about climate change has proven extremely difficult in our current political reality.
At each moment, millions of us held our breath, and millions more of us raged in righteous fury, or stood in trembling fear. The stakes of our times shone clear, the twists and turns of American life on bright, terrible display. Each a moment of fury and dread that, still unresolved, lives on. Each a moment, we raged and feared, that would end America as we know it.
Last week’s Braver Angels’ debate covered one of the most controversial medical topics in recent history: vaccine mandates.
Thanksgiving 2017. My house buzzed with chattering voices. Two dining-room tables butted together to accommodate five sons and wives. A half-sized table awaited six small grandchildren.
“Call our recent debate on America’s interventions abroad “civil,” and it would be an understatement.”
“We have to be fair, human beings are works in progress… It’s going to take all of us reflecting on ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we still don’t have a problem for people that are different in this country.”
Without justice, unity is tyranny. Without dialogue, unity is based in falsehood. So how can we reckon with a fractured nation? Is unity, even among friends, possible in my lifetime?
There’s an inherent tension between this desire to enforce common values that we believe are important for creating a free and prosperous society and allowing individual communities within that society to choose their own values, to the exclusion of some chosen by others. So who gets to decide where this line is drawn?
The work of unity is a patriotic endeavor. But it is incumbent upon those of us who would take up this cause to recognize that one source of the division that plagues us is the language of patriotism itself.
Redressing injustice and rebuilding community will force us all to acknowledge our shortcomings. But we have to get started.
Our mission at Braver Angels, since the day of our founding a few short years ago and across all the lifetimes and ages that have passed since then, remains what it always has been and always will be: to hold America together by transforming ourselves and loving one another.
A message from Braver Angels’ President, David Blankenhorn, on the events of January 06, 2021.
Antiracism is rising. But we will not reach the promised land without Nonviolence.
I’ve heard several people declare that they are uniquely impervious to the human tendency toward emotionally motivated reasoning. But I tend to conclude instead that this person is the opposite of unique. They’re blind to the impact of their own biases, just like the rest of us.
Again, we find ourselves in such a time, where the old question for Americans—whether human beings like ourselves might be capable of governing ourselves by reflection and choice, or if we are forever condemned to the capricious rule of accident and force—is on the table.
If you take the time to watch not just the shootings themselves, but the preludes that lead up to them, even in the days preceding, you see a lonely, bullied kid who had sought acceptance and community with a group that claimed to be the allies of the police.
We are astounded by how many members of Braver Angels showed the courage to express themselves through music—especially in these difficult and divisive times. Thank you to everyone who contributed their voice to build this movement!
This article, however, features speakers across a racial rather than a partisan divide. For this conversation, the white speaker is Cameron Swallow, a Braver Angels leader and local bluegrass musician in Wisconsin. The Black speaker is Austin Willacy, a professional songwriter, musician, and activist near Oakland, California.