By Lynn Heady, Blue, Nashville
and Wendy Wilson, Red, Antioch
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory … will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
— Abraham Lincoln, 1861
The last presidential election only made clear what many have feared: that we’re becoming two Americas, each angry with the other, and neither trusting the other’s basic humanity and good intentions.
Many of us are searching for ways to promote civility and help bring our country back together. The nonprofit organization Better Angels has this very goal at the core of its mission.
Better Angels is a national citizens movement to reduce political polarization in the U.S. by bringing liberals (blues) and conservatives (reds) together to understand each other beyond stereotypes, forming red/blue community alliances, teaching practical skills for communicating across political differences, and making a strong public argument for depolarization.
Delegates to the Better Angels Founding Convention, held in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in early June, adopted a declaration that recognizes that “We the People” must take responsibility for the direction of our nation. By building trust in each other and engaging in civil discourse, we hope to end this era of polarization.
How does Better Angels work? Our Nashville Alliance consists of workshop organizers and moderators, and members who have attended workshops and continue to meet informally to discuss the issues of the day. We offer a variety of workshop formats for individuals, college students and staff, and organizations hoping to help in this important work. Better Angels also links with other local initiatives and organizations, like Nashville Common Ground and Civility Tennessee, which take different approaches to meeting the same goals.
We invite all our blue and red Middle Tennessee neighbors to join us in creating a new moment in our history.