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.
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.
In early February, Braver Angels president David Blankenhorn was delighted to received word that the organization was selected for the 2020 Warren Knight Distinguished Service Award, an annual award bestowed each year by the JAMS Foundation.
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.
Systemic Racism – what does the data say?
It made us wonder: how does a quiet voice “drown out all the noise?” Is there one authoritative quiet voice, or is it up to each one of us to discern it? What is that quiet voice for you?
Jazz musicians don’t have to agree with each other’s notes, but they should inspire each other, just as two people discussing a hot topic in politics should acknowledge their differences while keeping an open ear for other points of view to take the narrative in a more dynamic direction.
Can gay rights activists and proponents of religious liberty build the trust and understanding needed to find common ground? Or is this divide destined to be a zero-sum fight?
For this conversation, the Blue is Cameron Swallow—a Braver Angels moderator and bluegrass musician in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who spent 18 years teaching secondary school. The Red is Jennifer Stepp—a pianist, musical theater dabbler, and community arts advocate who also serves as a city council member in Gastonia, North Carolina. Cameron and Jennifer are both deeply connected to North Carolina, and each now plans to visit the special diner the other discusses in this conversation.
Where does spiritual fulfillment come from in a secular age? Tara Burton looks out across the social landscape.
For this conversation, the Blue is Sage Snider—a singer, dancer, songwriter, and pirate musician in Nashville, Tennessee. The Red is Ronni Lynn Smith—singer, songwriter, and pianist from Waynesville, Ohio. Sage and Ronni met at Braver Angels’s first National Convention in 2018, and have been playing together and talking music ever since.
I’m not sure if we could become friends today, starting as strangers, given the greater levels of hostility and suspicion that divide our culture. But we can still play music together, and I will hold that door open while hoping (and working) for better times.
The mission continued. Every so often since 1944, the ambitions of great leaders and the swirling currents of history have given subsequent generations their own rendezvouses with destiny.
John Wood, Jr. joins Urban Specialists to talk race and healing in Dallas.
How do we overcome the bitterness of American politics and change the way things are done? “Left of Bernie,” yet a consistent defender of President Trump; author, commentator and creator …
Sam Daley-Harris shares the practices for effective organizing across the partisan divide.
Independent minded cultural voices Chloe Valdary and Ken Bone weigh in on a better American future coming out of COVID-19.
We know that information is important. But we almost never ask what it’s important for. We don’t bother because it’s obvious. Information is for knowing things. And knowing things is …
Braver Angels Chief Marketing Officer Ciaran O’Connor delivers a Tedx Talk on the art of depolarizing communication.
Covid-19 didn’t get here first. We’ve all been living in another kind of pandemic, long before the virus entered the scene. And we are all the stronger for our experience. …
Everybody seems to hate the media. But is it the problem or the solution?
Greetings from a screened-in porch in Raleigh where I’m looking out on another spring day in the Tar Heel State. The flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and cardinals are …
Do not be ashamed of being afraid. Many of us in the United States at this moment are fearful. We may or may not be afraid for ourselves as individuals—but …
I recently came across a post on my Facebook page via a friend (a Blue) that linked to a blog post by a writer named Lori Gallagher Witt. Apparently, this …
Last Wednesday, almost 350 Better Angels members tuned in to the April BA member meeting, where a well-kept secret was finally revealed. But before the big announcement, a special guest …
In my previous article, I argued that the chili bowl should be America’s new national metaphor. I said that it strikes the right balance between individuality and commonality. A chili …
Welcome to Braver Angels Media, the opinion page of Braver Angels, where our writers explore themes of importance to our organization and community. We publish standalone pieces and frequent symposiums …