CIVILITY BREVARD: DEPOLARIZATION WORKSHOP
It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House, which party controls Congress or whether the country has shifted blue or red — the political polarization we have seen in recent years isn’t magically going away.
The current political divisions are too deep to be fixed with one election, no matter who won. And let’s be honest, the road ahead is rough and will stay that way unless we start the difficult work of looking within ourselves.
That’s why, after a COVID-induced hiatus, I’m bringing Civility Brevard back. We will do so safely with an online de-polarization workshop on Nov. 17, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This workshop is free and open to anyone in the U.S. You can sign up for it online at bit.ly/Depolarize.
We’re partnering again with Braver Angels (formerly known as Better Angels), which will conduct the workshop using methods developed by therapists and experts. Braver Angels is a nonpartisan nonprofit founded after the 2016 election to bridge political divisions.
The “Depolarizing Within” workshop will happen on the online meeting platform Zoom and we have limited “seats,” so the sooner you sign up the better. Once you do so, you will receive an email with more information.
So, what will you learn during the “Depolarizing Within” workshop?
- How to be more aware of your own “inner polarizer.”
- How to be critical without demonizing, dismissing or stereotyping large swaths of the population.
- Strategies for intervening constructively in social conversations with like-minded peers when these conversations veer into contempt and ridicule for people who hold other political views.
This won’t be an easy task for participants: It will require them to stop pointing fingers at the “other side” and self-reflect on what they’re doing to contribute to the problem. Our hope is that you’ll walk away with emotional tools on how to deal with your own divisive tendencies. I also hope you learn to stop seeing those with whom disagree as enemies who need to be crushed or eliminated.
On Nov. 16 at 1 p.m., Braver Angels co-founder Bill Doherty, who has a background in family therapy, will be part of a virtual discussion organized by Florida Pulse, the USA TODAY Network’s monthly live-streamed round-table discussion. You can watch it on the Facebook page of any of the network’s newspapers, including FLORIDA TODAY. The other guests are David Plazas, opinion editor at The Tennessean and founder of Civility Tennessee (the inspiration for Civility Brevard), and Robert Watson, distinguished professor of American history at Lynn University.
After I started Civility Brevard in 2019, there were times I questioned whether these efforts were in vain. In moments of doubt, I pondered, “What’s the point of doing all this?” and “Does anybody care about civility?” and “What impact are we making?”
I know that you probably feel the same. The work of depolarizing ourselves is exhausting and probably a lifelong commitment.
But then, I thought: What are the consequences if we don’t even try? Who are we to complain about congressional gridlock, about the sad state of our politics, when the problem begins with us?
I encourage you to ask yourself the same question.
Isadora Rangel is FLORIDA TODAY’s public affairs and engagement editor and a member of the Editorial Board. Her columns reflect her opinion. Support her work by subscribing to FLORIDA TODAY. Readers may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: “Depolarizing Within” workshop led by Braver Angels
When: Nov. 17 from 6-8:30 p.m.
How to sign up: bit.ly/Depolarize
Where: Online via Zoom