We Must Not Be Enemies

Finding common humanity in our nation’s capital

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” — Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address

The Better Angels bus rolled through Washington D.C. this weekend, hosting a series of workshops and gatherings to bring people together in the political center of our polarized nation.

On Wednesday, Better Angels held a skills workshop in Kensington, MD, in which lead facilitator Bill Doherty taught participants skills for talking across the political divide.

As The Washington Post reported, the goal was not to persuade anyone to change their beliefs, but to try and find some understanding.

Residents of Kensington, MD participate in a Better Angels role play to understand the other side’s perspective
“If we only talk politics to people we agree with, how are we ever going to move forward?” — Donna Murphy, Better Angels organizer

On Thursday night, Better Angels hosted a diverse group of local residents — 8 red and 8 blue — for a lively, 2.5 hour dialogue in McLean Virginia.

Participants broke into groups of red and blue to list out common stereotypes, consider why they were misguided, and examine whether any held a kernel of truth. Then they came together to present and discuss what they learned.

The reds in McLean list out false stereotypes — and discuss whether any of them hold a kernel of truth
“I learned that many liberals do have family values; they just might not define those values in a traditional way,” said one red after the stereotypes discussion.
“It was interesting to hear conservatives reject the monolithic label. I feel the same way,” said one blue.

Both the reds and blues of McLean were pleased to recognize commonalities on the other side. They didn’t abandon any of their strongly-held positions, but they emerged from the evening with a newfound respect for how their fellow participants had arrived at their values and beliefs — regardless of where they exist on the political spectrum.

This weekend, Better Angels is in Leesburg, Virginia to host a more intensive, weekend-long gathering. Stay tuned for updates!

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