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U.S. Panelists Propose Strategies to Diminish Polarization in America




Washington, D.C. – The United States is often referred to as a melting pot. However, stark divisions have appeared along political, moral and racial fault lines. Is it possible to de-escalate the rhetoric? Media has played a role in creating the current atmosphere of demonization; can it also help present a more balanced perspective?  


To address this issue, the International Media Association for Peace (IMAP) North America convened a webinar on November 28, 2023. The panelists – Dr. Chris Foreman, Network Lead, Deliberation Gateway and Braver Angels Ambassador; Dr. Frank Kaufmann, President, Twelve Gates Foundation and Founder, The Settlement Project; and Ms. Cheryl Wetzstein, former Washington Times reporter and Senior Editor at the Earth & I online magazine – weighed in on this vital topic and advanced possible solutions. The presenters explored the roots and impacts of toxic polarization on current affairs and offered examples of how two opposing sides were able to bridge divides using various innovative methods.


Dr. Foreman presented the Braver Angels model of deliberative democracy to bridge partisan divides in America. Braver Angels has created ninety-seven chapters across the USA, that bring Democrats and Republicans together for dialogue. Dr. Kaufmann identified institutions of higher learning and religious communities as the source of the current state of toxicity. He sees media bias as a result of the intolerance currently taught in schools of journalism. Seasoned journalist Ms. Wetzstein gave examples of healing and reconciliation that took place through active processes of forgiveness on both personal and global levels. 

 

In conclusion, toxic polarization may have become the norm in today’s discourse, but it is possible to transform the demonization of the other to a form of sincere interaction in which each party makes an effort to understand the opposing viewpoint. This webinar clearly demonstrated that well-meaning people are already making significant efforts in this direction.

 


By Hans Moyer, US Coordinator for IMAP November 28, 2023

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