Reader expresses appreciation for Better Angels Workshop
To The Editor:
I would like to thank two local people of Newaygo County, Sally Kane and Sally Wagoner, who spearheaded a local conversation on the Partisan Divide that is seen and heard in our county, our state and in the nation. Working diligently, over the summer, with the MI Braver Angels Organization and members of the local Republican and Democratic parties and other area citizens, these women dedicated hours of time and planning to be able to offer a local Red and Blue Workshop which was held on Sept. 30th, 2022.
I have been feeling frustrated, discouraged and heartsick about the rancor and hostility I have witnessed when it comes to public and even private conversations among family and friends who are from different political persuasions, views or parties. This workshop was a breath of fresh air and provided a safe and calm environment to explore opportunities to talk with, to listen to and to share in civil and respectful ways with others in our county who may or may not think and believe the same way politically.
After attending the workshop with approximately 30 people; red and blue leaning participants, observers, moderators and volunteers for feeding all, I came away from that Braver Angels workshop with a renewed spirit in humankind and hope for the state of our nation. And two significant insights. My first insight was that all of us there, regardless of party affiliation, had been “brainwashed” by the media with its stereotypical blaming, shaming and “othering” of one another and issues of the day! In an eye opening exercise, each group easily named how and what the other group thought of them; each full of stereotypes and untruths! Talking with one another, we recognized the untruths and lies about each other and focused on listening and discovering that we are NOT enemies. The purpose was not to change anyone's minds, accuse or argue.
Listening to one another in a safe environment with unbiased moderators, one red and one blue, brought attention to my second significant insight; we are not enemies! We all had so much in common as caring human beings, not only for ourselves and our families but as caring people concerned about our well being as citizens of Newaygo county and this country. True communication, listening, and respect was had that day.
Kudos to the local organizers who worked together with MI Braver Angels to hold this workshop, the FACF’s support and the congregation of Newaygo Congregational United Church of Christ for opening their building for the day.
It was a very worthwhile experience and I recommend others to find out about Braver Angels and the work they do to close the political divide.
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