Depolarizing America

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As America recovers after a particularly heated election year, many Utahns feel that America has divided itself beyond repair. Newsline reporter Amy Griffin said there is an organization that’s trying to resolve the political tension within the country. 

The temperature in politics has turned up extremely high. That’s why national organization Braver Angels teaches people the skills necessary to depolarize and start listening. 

Braver Angels was founded in 2016 in the aftermath of an election no one could easily forget. Originally called Better Angels, the organization takes its name from Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, where he asked Americans to appeal to their better angels. 

“Braver angels is a citizens’ movement dedicated to decreasing political polarization,” said Utah state coordinator at Braver Angels, Erika Munson. 

The organization started with Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a way to disagree respectfully. Braver Angels rejects the extreme polarization of American politics, works to restore civic trust, and heal wounds. The organization also emphasizes listening. 

“I just don’t think we can continue if I’m not listening to the people who I deeply disagree with, the people who I think are dangerous,” Munson said. 

At their events, workshops and podcasts, Braver Angels emphasizes seeing one another, not as stereotypes, but as neighbors. 

And like most other events during the pandemic, activities have shifted online, which means more people can participate than ever. 

“There’s some value underneath both sides that you can find if you think there is, and it’s not just that the other person has bad intent. Braver Angels teaches skills for meaningful conversations among communities, neighbors and family,” said Braver Angels moderator, Carrie Aktson. 

Aktson also said this movement is starting to pick up in Utah and they are seeing an increase in membership from people on both sides of the political spectrum who want to make a difference.  

Though it seems like a lofty goal, Braver Angels is putting in the work to build a house united. Braver Angels encourages those who would like to get involved to visit braverangels.org and find a workshop near you. 

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