Better has become Braver. Ciaran O’Connor and John Wood, Jr. discuss the organization’s transformation, the need for courage in public life, the politics of the coronavirus, and the task of depolarization in the face of a national crisis, in a critical election year. Listen on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
6 thoughts on “Introducing the Braver Angels Podcast”
I am so excited about Braver Angels and the links to their information. As a Red Organizer but slowed down by the Covid-19 situation, I thirst for our meetings and try to get the word out about our depolorization project.
I like your organization
But we need to rember we are in dark times with this administration
Getting along will not work until this happens….
not happy how you think by using courage will work
3 years ago a virus started on Election Day!!
Vote this fraudulent president out!!!
While I tend to agree with your opening sentiment, I think it is important to see beyond the current situation to a better future. To choose better paths, politicians, we need to become better at listening to and understanding each other. We’ll always have fringes attempting to create a bi polar choice, but if we can learn how to work together in this social and media environment we can be better informed and make better choices. Why not have a well informed and thoughtful middle making the the best choices for the many, using a meaningful time horizon?
I have been a member of BA for almost 2 years. I admire its mission, but doesn’t the line have to be drawn somewhere? I am a Democrat. Here is an example – a line in the sand for me – separating families and putting children in cages. How can I respect a “red” who supports or even tolerates such inhumane treatment of other human beings? I continue my participation in my local alliance, but this question is ALWAYS weighing on my mind. Could I please get an answer this time? I’ve asked before….
Thanks for the question, Lisa, and sorry we haven’t responded previously. As a committed progressive myself, I’ve wrestled with this question many times, and I always come back to the same conclusion. I believe it’s always worthwhile to reach out to those on the other side, and it’s also important to practice our ability to recognize our anger (which can be completely justified), but respond in a way that the other side can more easily hear, which starts with checking our instinct to demonize and dehumanize people.
About the first point, I think it’s a perfectly valid response to walk away from someone you feel is hurting you or others with their hatred and toxicity. But I choose to stay and talk, and I feel like, as someone who exists at the apex of various privileges, it’s easier for me to do so. So while I wouldn’t expect someone in a vulnerable group to do that, I feel it’s incumbent upon me to take one for the team, so to speak, and continue the conversation in the hopes that I can move the needle a bit. I’ve actually seen how powerful the combination of these two approaches can be. So if you feel you have the resilience for it, I would definitely advocate leaning into the task of staying in the conversation. It’s the kind of courage we’re talking about in our new name.
And about the second, I think it’s so obvious that when we respond to others’ toxicity with our own, it may feel satisfying but it’s counterproductive. When we challenge someone’s self-image by pointing out their hypocrisy, they’re bound to fight or flee as if their physical safety were threatened, and both of those results in their ideology becoming further entrenched. But if we respond with kindness, the opposite is more likely to happen. Not always, of course, but the numbers tell us it’s worth a shot.
Braver Angels helps us on both of these counts, and I truly believe that it helps even the most resolute partisans, because only when we keep up the conversation do we improve our ability to defend our own beliefs and argue them on a wavelength that can actually resonate with the opposition. This is hard work, and I don’t blame you for questioning its efficacy, since sometimes it feels to me like I’m spitting into the wind. But in the grand scheme of things my involvement with BA has been incredibly rewarding, and opened my eyes to new ways of seeing the world, even as I maintain my passionate advocacy for my progressive beliefs. I hope you’ll come to feel the same. Thanks so much for being a part of the effort for the past 2 years.
Thank you, Randy. I hear your points and I agree, or I would not have stayed a member of BA for this long. I don’t intend to leave, either. I’m determined to participate in any type of progress we can make.
Please know that I am a rather “quiet” person, and I would never speak or behave disrespectfully to anyone – even anonymously on the Internet! If anything, I believe I am extremely diplomatic and have been told so by others. (Sometimes too diplomatic, if that’s possible.) This is partly due to my personality, AND to my perspective, like yours, that it is better and braver to remain in the conversation in a way that fosters constructive communication.
So my question has more to do with the efficacy of such discussions. I can discuss the issue of children in cages with a “red” who disagrees with me – but will I REALLY move the needle, as you suggest is possible? I know that he/she could never change “my needle” on that issue.
Are there some issues that are so emotionally wrenching that they cannot benefit from the BA approach? Although I realize that the goal is not to change anyone’s mind, I find it very hard to even be in a room with a person who defends any type of cruelty toward others. It causes a visceral reaction inside me. Often, I cannot express my opinion because of the structure of the group meeting, so it festers. And there is no sense of resolution.
Bottom line: If all of our BA-trained ways of communicating don’t reveal clearly to “reds” the many terrible values and actions that Donald Trump embodies, then what is our purpose? In all of my BA and other “civilized” political discussions, I have yet to see anyone get through to anyone from the “other side.” We “act” civilly to one another, but we are people who know how to behave in public, anyway.