Group works to bring civility to politics

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The Walton Sun

Recently, more than a dozen local political activists from both sides of the spectrum — and some in between — gathered in Dune Allen to practice agreeing to disagree.

The event was the first Better Angels workshop in the Panhandle and was hosted at the home of organizer Lesa Klein.

She said the group originated shortly after the 2016 elections and that it was currently in 50 states. Better Angels works to help Americans realize that while they might not necessarily agree with someone’s point of view, they should still respect them, acknowledge what they have to say and be able to chat without emotions getting involved.

“It’s bringing both sides of the political fence together in order to try to have a civil conversation,” Klein said. “I don’t know where red and blue started.”

The event kicked off with guests introducing themselves and sharing why they were there. Some said they felt misrepresented by there side, others wanted to gain incite on how to discuss politics across parties, but everyone was there to do so civilly and contribute to the group’s cause.

Moderators, like Jon Wolfe from Tennessee and Jean LeStourgeon from Santa Rosa Beach, conducted the meeting and highlighted the group’s key points, some of which included setting a constructive tone, discovering common ground and asking honest questions.

“I think we’re the largest civility group in the United States,” Wolfe said, and added there were around 6,000 members, split between red and blue delegates. “People who are coming to the workshops are telling us they’re getting a sense of hope.”

Wolfe said that he was there combining vacation with an opportunity to use the moderators skills that he was taught by the group. He said Better Angels is about building a better relationships with anyone you might encounter in life with different political ideologies.

He said that in a way, disliking someone because of how they voted was similar to disliking them because of their religion or race.

“Better Angels is about respect, not hate,” Wolfe said. “We have to acknowledge we’re here together. Even though we’re different, we’re here together, and learning how to work together will make us stronger. … We come up with high, better solutions when we consider all sides.”

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