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Become a better angel

Loudoun Times-Mirror: Better Angels, better understanding

July 28, 2017

Each day, the American discourse seems to sink to a new low. Settled fact is reinterpreted as fake news. Political manipulation distorts whether a foreign power meddled in our democracy. The President of the United States tweets insults and betrays the Boy Scout creed. The nation engages in a debate over health care as if we were mortal enemies, not as citizens looking out for one another.

It’s hard to contain the acrimony. Rancor and distrust reign in communities throughout the U.S. Ours is no exception.

We hate to be demoralizing, but we’ve got a problem. We’re losing common ground. An uncivil war tests our character.

Politicians seem only to drive us apart. Thankfully, a small group of citizens is trying to find a way forward.

Better Angels met quietly in Leesburg this week striving to encourage dialogue across the political spectrum.

The name of the movement owes to a speech by Abraham Lincoln, the tormented president who led the U.S. through its devastating Civil War. Lincoln called upon the better angels of our nature to lead us through crisis.

Better Angels brought a diverse group of Republicans and Democrats together at the VFW in Leesburg last weekend for discussions and workshops to help them clarify political disagreements, reduce rancor and stereotyped thinking, and identify areas of common ground.

The national bipartisan movement aims to bridge our nation’s political divide and reunite America by helping citizens with differing political beliefs find more productive ways to listen and learn from one another. By creating opportunities for meaningful discussions, Better Angels works to dial down the heated rhetoric that gets in the way of real conversations and accurate understanding of our differences. The objective is not to push an agenda or change participant’s minds, but to provide a safe place for deeper understanding.

Sixteen thoughtful souls participated in the weekend workshop in Leesburg. They listened. They debated. They vented. There were tense moments and emotional ones. Participants did not change their own views, but left with a softened view of the other side. During an acrimonious time that divides families and destroys friendships, consider that a breakthrough.