What's Happening

Arkansas Table Talks

Please join us via Zoom on Monday, April 11 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM for our 2nd Arkansas Table Talk program. This month's topic is individual freedom versus public health.

Registration is via Eventbrite at the following link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/.../arkansas-table-talk-braver...

We kindly ask that prior to our program, each participant read the following three articles which are from the left, center, and right points of view:

Restore Civility: Hope for Better Understanding

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 24 Jan 2022

Guest writers Glen White (gwhite@braverangels.org) and David Childs (dchilds@braverangels.org) are state co-coordinators of Braver Angels in Arkansas.

How are your new year’s resolutions coming? How about adding this critical resolution: “In 2022 I will commit to help restore civility to political discussions in America.”

If you, like most of us, are disturbed by the rancor and hostility that is increasingly evident in our country, you know that we need the help of as many citizens as possible to turn America in a positive direction. The danger of extreme political polarization and societal incivility, not only here but around the world, is real.

Political scientists and other professionals have noted a persistent relationship between high polarization in a society and degradation of its democratic institutions. Continuing down this path jeopardizes democracy and freedom for all of us. More of us must resolve to help turn down the political temperature.

There is hope that we can turn things around in our pursuit of “a more perfect union.” Braver Angels, as the largest and most effective U.S. organization working to reduce polarization, provides education and skills training to promote more civil, respectful conversations across the political divide.

Braver Angels has been working in Arkansas since 2017 to spread the word about how people with different political beliefs can communicate effectively with each other, often resulting in finding some common ground. Once enough of us adopt this approach, voters will become more likely to elect persons to office who seek common ground as a basis for compromise on many of the serious problems we face today.

Our politicians face pressure to act in highly emotional, partisan ways, even when it might be at the expense of problem-solving for the greater good of all Americans. Voters must help support those in government who are willing to work across the aisle where common ground can be found, and we must start holding them accountable for solving problems, instead of prioritizing polarized partisan tribal battles.

We heard an encouraging story recently from a past participant at one of our local Braver Angels skills workshops that provided training in skills for engaging those of differing political views in effective, civil conversation. Those skills include listening to understand the other’s point of view, describing one’s own views clearly but respectfully, and committing to improving the communication exchange, not to changing the other’s beliefs.

The woman described with excitement how she was able to use her new skills during a recent holiday family get-together. Some of her favorite kin, who had long shared similar political views, had changed their opinions, and she found that distressing.

Yet, remembering the skills that she had learned, she resisted the urge to try to criticize them or change their minds and instead used her new skills for communication to better understand their viewpoint, while also effectively conveying her own. Initially, they did not trust her to genuinely listen to their viewpoints, but she calmly persisted with her new skills by showing a genuine interest and even asking follow-up questions.

They eventually exchanged enough information to understand each other better and to some degree even empathize with some common viewpoints. They agreed that a major problem was politicians and government officials who are more devoted to maintaining power for themselves and their party than in solving problems for the country. Attendees at Braver Angels workshops routinely express surprise at the amount of agreement they find with other participants of differing political persuasion, especially developing a better awareness of how the other person came to have their views. They realize that most of these people with differing views are human and not the evil or clueless caricatures they initially assumed.

We encourage citizens and elected officials to take this approach. Being willing to compromise on areas of common ground is the basis for how our democracy was designed to work, and we need to encourage more of it.

Arkansans who are distressed by the division and disrespect in our state and country can help to bring our country back from the brink. Resolve in 2022 and beyond to learn and use skills to engage with those of differing viewpoints and join Braver Angels in our work to improve the state of our union.

To learn about our work in Arkansas and upcoming events, visit our website at arkansas.braverangels.org or go to the national website at www.braverangels.org and join for $12 a year. That will get you on our state email list and you’ll gain access to our newsletter and email announcements of events. We also welcome the chance to present to groups, churches and organizations about our work, or to provide a full workshop.

Maybe you’ll even learn how to rescue that failing relationship with a family member or co-worker whose political stance you don’t think you can accept. That is a resolution worth making.


Braver Angels Hopes to Instill Fruitful Dialogue 12/21/2021

By LEWIS DELAVAN

Staff writer

Re-printed from the Hot Springs Village Voice

A Villager believes that respectful conversation on serious issues will produce better results.

David Childs became involved in Braver Angels about 9 months ago after learning about it from a friend. After researching the organization, which promotes civil conversation between people with divergent views, Childs attended the Arkansas Chapter’s next Zoom meeting.

“I liked the people involved; felt confident that they were sincere and serious about the Braver Angels’ mission; so I decided to get a bit more involved,” Childs said in response to an email.

The national organization’s name comes from the first inaugural address of the nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, at a time when political discourse was anything but civil.

“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature,” Lincoln urged a nation poised on civil war.

Launched in 2016, “Better Angels” changed its name to “Braver Angels” in 2020, "to reflect the courage needed to bridge the divide."

It aims to bring together conservative-leaning and liberal-leaning Americans in a working alliance, through programs and workshops.

Childs, who enjoyed a career in local government in north Texas, says working together produces results. “Civil conversation promotes more conversation, more substantive, detailed and serious conversation. We have become a society that spits emotional anger and bumper sticker distortions at each other, causing many people, especially those who have something of real substance and value to share, to just shut down and no longer participate in dialogue," he said.

“Braver Angels is about restoring an atmosphere where serious, substantive discussion of issues can occur in a respectful environment. Such an environment is sorely needed if we are once again going to become a society that can civilly share our collective wisdom to solve our nation’s challenges,” Childs said.

He tells how he become involved on the state level.

“At the Arkansas Chapter’s next Zoom meeting, they started talking about how to conduct marketing and additional member recruitment,” he said. “I made several suggestions that they liked, so they outvoted me and made me membership director. "

Jeannie Burris leads the Arkansas Table Talk.

"The Arkansas Central Region covers Hot Springs and The Village; currently it is the only Chapter in Arkansas. If I do my job as membership chair, there will be more chapters soon," Childs says.

Braver Angels is a 501c3 non-profit group. Membership dues are $12 per year. Learn more about Braver Angels and become a member at www.braverangels.org or by texting BA to 66866, or, on Facebook @braverangelsarkansas.

By paying $12 a year to join Braver Angels via the national website ( www.braverangels.org), you qualify to be a voting member of our local alliance, Braver Angels of Central Arkansas.

To be involved or to volunteer, one must be a member, but the public is welcome to join Braver Angels programs and workshops, and there is no cost for attending any event, in person or online. "We also welcome clubs, organizations, churches, etc. who are interested in hearing from us, securing a presentation from one of our leaders, or who simply support our mission," the Arkansas chapter says.

Contact Glen White at gwhite@braverangels.org, for more information. Or to learn more about Braver Angels or to request a speaker for an organization, contact David Childs at fitforsrrvice@verizon.net.

Less than four years after his 1861 inaugural address, Lincoln implored citizens to come together, to ensure that those who had fought to preserve the grand experiment of a democratic constitutional republic had not died in vain.

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth," Lincoln concluded in his Gettysburg Address.

Co-director of field communications for Braver Angels National is Dr. April Chatham Carpenter, chair of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Applied Communications.

“Although I usually prefer working at the grassroots level, sometimes opportunities come along that allow you to serve and learn from leaders at a different level,” Chatham Carpenter said in a November UALR release. “That’s what happened here. I want to learn from the folks at Braver Angels National and do what I can to help further the mission of depolarizing America.”

“I believe that the work of Braver Angels helps bridge the political divide we face in our relationships and communities and is so important,” she said in the release. “The mission of Braver Angels is consistent with my department’s mission to foster the co-creation of better social worlds through positive communication.”


'Arkansas Table Talk' to Kick Off in January 2022

Braver Angels of Central Arkansas is excited to announce its newest program, "Arkansas Table Talk," which will take place quarterly in 2022. "Arkansas Table Talk" will be an informal discussion of various local issues. The program is open to anyone, and attendees do not have to be present at all four sessions.

The first topic of discussion, homelessness, will take place Monday, Jan. 31 via Zoom. The session will be one hour long, from 6:30-7:30 pm. Braver Angels leaders will also be available for 30 minutes after (until 8 pm) to answer questions and/or continue the discussion with participants who can stay longer.

Those interested in participating in the January 31 discussion should email Jeannie Burrus at jburrusPcals.org or Glen White at gwhitebraverangels.org to receive the Zoom link. We also kindly ask that participants read the following articles on the topic of homelessness from three perspectives - left, center and right - prior to the event.

From the left: https://www,allsides.cominews/2021-05-14-0636/people-want-quick-fix-homelessiess-there-isn-t-one

From the right: https://www.theepochtimes.com/la-city-council-to-spend-2m-to-post-signs-for-anti-camping­enforcement 4082682.html

From the center: https://www.allsides.cominews/2021-10-22-1119/they-dicInt-pay-rent-and-_stoie-fridge-pandemic­spawns-nightmare-tenants

A BLM leader, a Trump supporter, and an ICU doctor talk vaccines

Braver Angels Podcast

Braver Angels CMO Ciaran O’Connor convenes Hawk Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York; David Iwinski, a Trump supporter who helps lead Braver Angels Debates; and Dr. Tess Russell, an anesthesiologist and intensive care specialist at Columbia New York Presbyterian Hospital, for a raw and wide-ranging discussion on trust, science, and the COVID vaccine.

Listen to A BLM Leader, a Trump Supporter, & an ICU Doctor Talk Vaccines | Hawk Newsome, David Iwinski, & Dr. Tess Russell with Ciaran O’Connor

Should we mandate vaccines? Watch our last debate

Which takes priority: public health or personal freedom? Some believe mandatory vaccinations protect the country and keep children and teachers safe in school. Others believe no institution can mandate that an individual put something in their body if they personally believe it is risky or unnecessary.

Watch Braver Angels Debate Vaccine Mandates

Minnesota State Fair Serves As Bipartisan Common Ground

ABC Good Morning America

September 15, 2021

Minnesota State Fair serves as bipartisan common ground | GMA (goodmorningamerica.com)

Promo:

A South Dakota Republican and a Minnesota Democrat are working together to show that meaningful bipartisan dialogue can be accomplished.

Colleague of the Week

Polarization in America didn’t suddenly start with the 2016 presidential election. Chuck Stone traces it back much further than that. “My first look at how polarized we’d become was in 1990 or 1991, during the hearings for [US Supreme Court Justice] Clarence Thomas,” he recalls. “As a fairly young lawyer then, I was watching these US senators examining the witnesses, and it really struck me how nasty the divisions had become. After that, I saw so many instances of Americans beginning to hate each other.”

Read more about our Blue-leaning state coordinator for Illinois in Colleague of the Week: Chuck Stone

Are There Different Ways of Being a "Good Patriot"?

In the News

Bill Richardson, the Red co-chair of Greenfield Braver Angels Alliance, and John Bos, a Blue founder of the Greenfield group, say why they are working hard to reach across today’s political divide.

Read: My Turn: Help to depolarize America

Can We Fix Social Media?

Ciaran O’Connor talks with Duke professor Christopher Bail about redesigning social media platforms and how we can combat online polarization.

🎧 Listen to Breaking the Social Media Prism | Christopher Bail with Ciaran O'Connor - Braver Angels

An Unusual Partnership

Watch a We the People's Forum about race, policing, trust, and community safety with Janelle Burke, a Black mom, and Dan Templeman, an Asian police chief.

🎥 Watch Can Black Americans & The Police Trust Each Other? A We the People's Forum

Who Is Human?

BA volunteer Bruce MacKenzie talks about the impact of Braver Angels through the lens of religion.

Read Living Lutheran: Seeing the Human in Each Other

Division after Trump

A conversation moderated by John Wood Jr. with Bill Kristol, Daniel Cox, William A. Galton, Nicole Penn, and Luke Nathan Phillips.

Watch American Purpose's "Continuing Liberty" Conference: A House Divided? Polarization Post-Trump

What Does Common Ground Look Like?

See how your fellow Braver Angels are responding in this rich conversation on Facebook.

What does common ground between liberals and conservatives look like to you?

Bringing Us Together

Can this marriage be saved? In this USA Today op-ed, Braver Angels cofounder Bill Doherty lays out how conservatives and liberals can learn to trust each other again. Even in Congress.

Politics and a picnic. The recently formed Pioneer Valley Alliance told the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Massachusetts why they’re inviting their community to share a meal and explore their differences.

‘It takes real work.’ California regional coordinator Paul Norris shared the Braver Angels commitment in this Daily Journal article about local groups bridging the divide.

Everyday Heroes. The Reunited States, a film about crossing the political divide, profiled Braver Angels National Ambassador John Wood, Jr. and cofounder Bill Doherty.


What Does Common Ground Look Like?

See how your fellow Braver Angels are responding in this rich conversation on Facebook.

What does common ground between liberals and conservatives look like to you?

Red-Blue Conversations

Red-Blue Conversations

The Alex Speiser Show (podcast)

Two interviews with Braver Angels leader Donna Murphy

Conversation 1: “The Braver Angels Experience”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/37-red-and-blue-conversation-1-braver-angels-experience/id1463117475?i=1000531892488

Conversation 2: “Climate Change & COVD 19”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/38-braver-angels-conversation-2-climate-change-covid19/id1463117475?i=1000532489855


What if you could talk to someone on the other side of the political aisle and not have it turn into a fight?

How to talk about the COVID vaccine with friends and family

How to talk about the COVID vaccine with friends and family

Interview with Braver Angels co-founder William Doherty

KARE 11 TV Minneapolis-St. Paul

September 17, 2021

https://www.kare11.com/article/news/local/kare11-sunrise/tips-for-vaccination-conversations/89-1956e350-057c-4e91-a9aa-a5ee59150a59

Promo:

As frustrating as it can be, an expert said a simple starting point is to go into the conversation with respect.


Braver Angels Helps Couples See Past Politics to Strengthen Their Relationships

Amber Brooks

DatingAdvice.com

August 30, 2021

https://www.datingadvice.com/for-men/braver-angels-helps-couples-see-past-politics

Promo:

If couples can disagree cordially, they can consider opposing viewpoints and challenge their assumptions. Experts at Braver Angels say that could be a powerful thing for the dating and relationship space.

Pressing forward with college debates in a time of COVID and cancellation

Matthew Wilson

The College Fix

August 30, 2021

https://www.thecollegefix.com/pressing-forward-with-college-debates-in-the-time-of-covid-and-cancelation/

Excerpt:

“Braver Angels debates are a real antidote to the way in which universities are failing students right now,” said April Lawson. “Students need a place to learn, to think, and to test out ideas, and to say things that they later are like, ‘Well, that was dumb!’, and to try things that are daring, and to really, sort of, become themselves."

Interview with Braver Angels Ambassador Rick Hotchner

Liberty Roundtable Radio / Sam Bushman & Friends

August 3, 2021

Hotchner interview starts at 27:59

Radio Show Hour 2 – 08/03/2021 (libertyroundtable.com)