The name of our organization Indivisible Berk implies that we cannot be divided. Also implied by our country’s name, is that we are made up of “United States.” Yet, as is often the case as elections approach, we are divided. Mostly in two directions - Democrat or Republican - but also in other directions like Independents, Libertarians, Green and more.
Today, I want to concentrate on the two larger groups Democrats, often referred to as liberal or blue and Republicans, known as conservatives or red. I chose to do this because they create the color that is part of the analogy I hope to form in this blog.
As I stated, Indivisible and united are in many ways synonymous, though a closer examination of the words gives more accurate meanings.
According to TheFreeDictionary.com:
Looking at the dictionary definition of these words you find that they are very different. And that is where we find ourselves when heading toward an election. Although we may want to stay united, our differences too often cause us to be divided. The worst example of this would be the Civil War.
There are likely few who want to see the divide created by our differences lead to another civil war, however, the divide currently taking place in our country is deepening. One might wonder if there is any chance of narrowing it again.
Could it be as simple as creating the color purple? As we learned as children the color purple is the result of combining the colors blue and red. Can we do it as simply with our personal beliefs?
The answer is yes and no. It can be done, but not simply. It takes people willing to listen to one another in an effort to better understand the other.
Better Angels holds workshops in locations throughout the United States where people learn to work in harmony in spite of their differences. In fact, it is said that many of the people who attend start out enemies and end as friends.
That doesn’t say they have changed their perspectives and political views, but it does say they have built respect for one another and an ability to work harmoniously when possible. You will find more information on Better Angels here.
I conducted my own informal survey on Facebook and although I did not have many respondents, I did see common ground. For one thing, everyone was in agreement, there needs to be a multi-party system for electing our leaders. With multiple parties there are going to be differences, but differences can be good. As one person stated, if we had a one party system we’d be a dictatorship. Frightening thought. Right?
The people I surveyed also stated they believe that although we may not be acting like it, they feel we still have some common ground, that to many people the most important things are that they and their families can live safe and prosperous lives.
The task of creating purple is not an easy one, as can be seen in a segment on 60 Minutes where Oprah Winfrey hosts a discussion group in Michigan similar to the ones conducted by Better Angels. Click to view video. In just the few seconds of this short preview it is obvious there was much to overcome before reaching a level of respect where the participants could actually communicate effectively.
Could this work here in Berks County? That remains to be seen as we approach another election, but one thing for certain, if blue and red do not find common ground, there is a good chance we will no longer be “indivisible.”
posted by Pam Garlick