Congratulations, Frederick!

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[h/t Frederick News-Post]

Letter to the Editor

Out of curiosity, I recently attended a Braver Angels workshop here in Frederick. For those who may not know, this group is nationally — and in fact internationally — engaged with helping people of opposite ideologies gain skill sets to help them hear and talk to one another, up to and including polarizing issues. What I saw and learned there gave me hope I thought I had lost.

The room was filled to capacity — all seats were taken, even standing room was tight. I learned that Frederick is a “hot spot” for Braver Angels — that this county had the highest rate of new memberships on both sides of the issues — in the entire nation. It seems that we really do want to engage one another under better circumstances than fighting, anger, shouting and attacks. Braver Angels is being sought out by so many here. Surely this is a sign of something good.

Is it an easy workshop? No, in fact it is hard, which I guess says a lot in and of itself. But it is worth the effort. Those who attended — on both sides of the divide — came away with something, a way to get beyond black and white, to find shades of gray. We learned that we had some things in common, and where we didn’t we could at least try to understand where the other person was coming from. Is this program self selecting? Perhaps, but even so, it should still be acknowledged that self-selection is taking place on both sides. This is worth repeating. We have to start somewhere. Better to start than not at all.

Braver Angels’ name comes from Abraham Lincoln, who said: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. … The chords of memory will swell when again touched … by the braver angels of our nature.” He also said: “… do I not destroy my enemy when I make him my friend?”

I am proud to be part of a city that is number one in the nation in search of a better. I hear so many people say how exhausted they are from all of the vitriol. But it seems we all continue to keep hope. That we put that hope to work is inspirational.

Ellen Lerner


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