From USG’s Adult Spiritual Development Committee
In the midst of this terrible pandemic, our thoughts and prayers always go first to each other and those we love and then beyond, especially those who have been affected physically, financially, emotionally, and in so many other ways.
We are exhausted with pandemic fatigue and with the stress of the threats to our democracy and our electoral process, as well as with concerns about racial justice, income inequality, and climate change. We all would like to just turn off the news, shut down, and make the world go away. But we cannot; there is work to be done.
Although there are so many areas where work needs to be done, one that is critical (okay, they are all critical!) is to begin the process of healing the toxic divide that is now so apparent in our society and our nation. The blatant polarization that led up to the recent election unfortunately was not healed by, but actually was exacerbated by, what should have been an election to end division. So, we must get to work.
USG will be working with a national non-partisan, non-profit organization called the Braver Angels which has for several years been working to bring people on both sides of the political spectrum together for respectful conversations in which they can hear and be heard in a safe and non-threatening environment, not for the purpose of changing minds or convincing others, but just for the purpose of listening and trying to understand the perspectives and values of the other side. Right now, Braver Angels is sharing an approach called With Malice Towards None, the title derived from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address at the end of the Civil War.
Emotions are still very raw and many may be tempted to lean toward revenge or payback for the travesties of the last four years and to see all those who voted in support of the past administration and Donald Trump as enemies and unworthy of any regard, and certainly not anxious to reach out to them. But for our nation to heal, for us to move back to some form of political normalcy, to allow our next president to succeed, we must!
The opportunities we will be offering will use the Braver Angels approach but will very much be grounded in our UU values and principles and will be led by our minsters along with a Braver Angels facilitator. They will start with gatherings of those on the same side of the divide to begin to explore and process the nature and cost of our own polarization. Only after that would participants be invited to meet with those on the other side to continue the process.
To learn more about Braver Angels, go to braverangels.org. If you are interested in participating in or learning more about what we will be offering at USG, contact Gerry Whelan at firstname.lastname@example.org.