A Better Angels Benefit – New Friends

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This picture above would not have happened without my joining BETTER ANGELS.

I am a conservative (red) living in Austin Texas – a very blue town. In the picture, I am the male wearing the blue sweater. I wear it to show my support for all the liberal/progressives (blues) in the room. The other male in the picture is Mike. Mike is a blue. He is wearing red to show his support for all the conservatives in the room. The three ladies are new friends. More on them in a bit.

For a long time, I have been worried about America – really worried. But discussions about politics was the fastest way to outrage people and lose Facebook friends. So, I just kept all that stuff to myself. I just didn’t want all the hassle of trying to have a conversation with a friend who was just going to get upset about politics – Life is Too Short.

So, I joined Better Angels to do something. It has been very cool to go through workshops and Alliance meetings. I have learned new skills. My faith in humanity is being restored.

And – I am blessed with new friends that I can talk to about politics! We have learned to trust one another. Therefore we can allow ourselves to discuss things that I would have never broached to most of my previous friends. Don’t get me wrong – they are dear friends – I think the world of them. But, I would just not have the same conversation with them that I would have with a Better Angel friend.

The power of Trust is awesome. Mike, in the picture above, came to my house in the summer of 2018 to help found the Central Texas chapter of Better Angels. He told me that he hesitated prior to ringing my doorbell thinking “do I really want to step into the living room of a Republican?” After an hour of group conversation (and A ZOOM call from Rob Robertson) he was comfortable in my home, with our group, and with me. I have come to admire Mike for his energy and insights as we have become good friends.

Which leads us to the ladies in the picture. They are the leaders of the NORTH SHORE DEMOCRATS of Lago Vista, Texas. They invited us to come discuss Better Angels in a “meet and greet” session. In our honor – they invited Republicans!

We had a delightful evening (and they agreed to hold a Red/Blue workshop)! Mike and I had animated conversations on the way home. I am sure that both of us will have fantastic conversations with our new friends in Lago Vista, Texas. I eagerly await those conversations with those new friends.

I joined Better Angels to help depolarize America – to help America. I am finding that in the process I am expanding my circle of friends – some red, some blue – and that is a real “Better Angles” benefit – that benefits me as much as benefits America.

Steve Saltwick
Austin TX
14 January 2019

More to explore

Two Kinds of Half-Depolarization

Depolarization, as we at Better Angels see it, is not so much about reducing partisanship or increasing moderation, as it is about re-building social ties and relationships across partisan divides, and reducing individuals’ sense of disgust for people of opposing political opinions.

Bob Shrum

Diagnosing the Divide with Bob Shrum

Democratic strategist Bob Shrum stops by The Better Angels Podcast to talk polarization, campus politics and the challenges facing the Democratic field.

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