The ever-present debate about “identity politics” continues to rage. It’s a conversation that gained strength during the civil rights activism of the latter 20th century, but it truly became a cultural touchstone amid what many have come to see as the “culture war” that has culminated in the horrifically divisive 2016 election, and the current …
A few weeks ago, I was trying—feebly—to learn Vietnamese. My girlfriend is from Vietnam, and my first encounter with her parents was around then. It seemed like the very least I could do, to try to make a good impression, to learn a few phrases in their tongue, particularly since their English isn’t very strong. …
By Randy Lioz and Paul Norris Involvement in Better Angels can be a highly rewarding endeavor, and each of us feels an increasing pull towards the organization, taking on more and more responsibility within it over time. In addition to sharing coordinator duties within California—Paul in the north, Randy in the south—Paul is also an …
The University of California, Berkeley, holds a distinct place in the history of political discussion in America. In fact, it’s practically synonymous with left-wing campus protests. In the midst of great national division over the Vietnam War, it was in fact a local land dispute—which spurred the crowd-powered creation of People’s Park on university land—that …
In my experience, it’s entirely possible to use these skills online, and indeed, if people did so more consciously, our digital world would be a much kinder place.
In The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff argue that we’ve been fostering a sense of fragility within an entire generation of Americans. I think they make a cogent argument that progressives often go too far in their assertion that speech can be equated with violence, at the risk of shutting …
This is the second article in the Blue Revue series, in which I discuss a term commonly used by blues, and what it means to me. A response from a member of the Revue Council, my brother Adam, follows my piece. At the 2nd annual Better Angels Convention in St. Louis in June, one of …
I’ve been moderating Better Angels workshops for around two years, and there are several experiences that have been consistent for me from one workshop to the next. Among these is listening to the conclusions that participants draw from their time with us. Without fail, at least one participant will mention how much closer the two …
From the “This is why we can’t have nice things” file: last month a new internet “challenge” broke, with copycat videos being posted of people licking ice cream and putting it back in the store fridge, inspired by a viral Twitter video of a girl doing the same. With fears naturally high that this would …
As we’re making progress with ourselves, we should also extend a “generosity of spirit” towards those who don’t have the same ethical framework as us, who haven’t “evolved” the way we insist is necessary. As we’re asking others to exercise their empathy, to perhaps finally address the harm their behavior or inaction has caused, we can offer the same empathy to them, and realize that we cannot fully know what’s in their hearts.
It would be wonderful for the frontrunners to incorporate some of the passion of the underdogs, so the ultimate Democratic nominee might speak more effectively not just to the left, but to Americans from all over the political spectrum.
With your help, we can turn the passion our California activists and staff have into results on the ground, and help bolster the influence of an organization that we all love.
Universal national service remains a highly worthy proposition, given the potential gains to our civic unity and ability to address the looming challenges that face our nation.
China’s unfair trade tactics must be addressed but tariffs are not the way to do it.
I’ve found myself much more concerned these days with the welfare of other beings, including those with which we don’t associate the same sort of “sentience” we ourselves or our beloved pets possess.
If you’ve been looking for reasons to take heart in the state of humanity, I offer that there are plenty of them around.
In the wake of a shooting at a San Diego synagogue, Randy reflects on the end of Passover and violence against “the other.”
My take on the Mueller Report focuses on not just the report itself, but on the environment into which it’s dropped with a thud. I think understanding that landscape is vital to reckoning with the potential impact, or lack thereof, of the report.
The belief that we must create a more inclusive nation and world, which treats every person as worthy of the same rights and responsibilities.
When I read a recent account in The Cut recalling an incident with Joe Biden that made a young woman extremely uncomfortable, I wasn’t at all surprised.
The language that the left and the right use is often very different. At Better Angels, we recognize that a language barrier can lead to serious issues when it comes to communicating effectively, and this certainly hasn’t helped us to extricate ourselves from our present loggerheads between reds and blues.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of forgiveness. As humans who regularly do plenty of awful things, we’re all in need of a fair amount of it. And our elected leaders are certainly no exception.
We at Better Angels are on a mission to depolarize America. Usually, that means we try to help people have more productive conversations across the acrimonious political divide which currently separates us. It’s important to recognize, though, that the acrimony isn’t restricted to dialogue between members of different groups.
Aside from the income driving for Lyft and Uber brings in, doing it also provides me with the opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life.
Rupa Ray’s experiences at the Phish concerts are generally very positive, but every so often she catches a glimpse of a different undercurrent that runs beneath the outward openness.
Can we be honest with each other about our feelings while protecting one another from the hurt that this honesty might engender?
This past October I got the chance to attend Politicon, the recently annual conflagration of political junkies and pundits in California.
For the past two years, Thanksgiving has been one of the most painful times of year for many Americans. Even if we haven’t lived this story ourselves, just about every one of us has heard from a frustrated friend about their dread over returning home to share a turkey dinner with relatives.
Immediately after the 2016 presidential election, in the thick doldrums of what for me and many of my friends was a genuine tragedy, I started to talk about empathy. I had been finding it tough to come to terms with the beliefs of some of the people I cared about in my life, but I was at least having conversations with them.