In this era of social media we’ve lost the art of genuine dialogue, discussion and debate. Although, if we are to be honest, our polarization started before social media got its hooks in us. The individualism that started to flourish after WWII, when the need for community cohesion was no longer paramount, led to the decline in community organizations that were our social glue. Some of these changes were of great benefit to the United States — women and minorities were given more opportunities to participate in the development of our society, regulations were loosened and private industry grew. But they came at an expense, tearing the fabric of society.
Maybe it’s time we pattern a new quilt. Looking backwards to resolve our current polemics, to Make America Great, is setting our sights in the wrong direction.
Truth In Between’s mother-and-son mission has been to foster dialogue and debate to create better understanding and empathy, and to pave a new way forward. However, over the past few decades we’ve begun to sort ourselves into like-minded clusters, both in our physical locations as well as in our virtual communities. It is even reflected in our schools, which are more segregated now than they were 40 years ago. We are backsliding, making our mission more difficult to achieve.
Our original mission and audience was really for our family, who recently fell prey to the divisions that plague our country. As we started to write, the idea grew with feedback reinforcing and expanding our original mission. Today we are working to amplify our message. In addition to our writing, we have a 3-prong strategy.
First, we are promoting an initiative we have, for the moment, simply called “letters”. We are recruiting thoughtful writers through our own networks and via Medium.com, of different ideological backgrounds, to write a letter outlining how they came to their position. Writers will be matched with someone of a different position and after receiving the original introductory letters will be asked to respond. These letters — the back and forth — will be published on our blog.
We feel that writing makes people slow down and really consider their position, something lost (or perhaps stolen) in platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Similarly, reading the views of another without the social media filter, forces one to be more considerate and deliberate in their responses.
On this initiative, we are collaborating with House United Movement, who have similar objectives and are working with churches throughout the United States to start these dialogues within and among congregations.
We will have a variety of topics but will start with exploring the political divide between Democrats and Republicans (or progressives and conservatives for those unaffiliated with a particular Party). If you would like to participate, we ask that you write us a letter explaining why you chose your certain political affiliation. You will be matched with someone holding a different ideological view and will receive their letter for you to consider and respond.
Throughout the year we will be engaging new participants who will write and respond on other topics — including immigration, income inequality, race and gender issues.
Second, we are starting to film discussions over the Zoom platform, inviting people from different ideological and geographical positions to share their ideas and views on selected topics. These are unscripted real conversations with real people on real issues. We’ve seen elite efforts to cross ideological boundaries in initiatives like Patriots and Pragmatists, but no one is doing this on-the-ground, with average citizens. We believe this is where change begins.
If you are knowledgeable or have experience in a particular issue that has been one of the battlegrounds in our current ideological war, we would love to discuss a video interview. Please send us more information on yourself in a short bio and we will contact you to discuss a video interview.
Third, we are looking into different platforms to create a “virtual happy hour” of live-streaming discussions on social media in an intimate talk-show format. The general premise is to have a weekly discussion on a topic and invite a variety of people from different ideological perspectives to discuss and debate issues with the participation of the public — a town-hall, if you will.
If you are interested in participating in our live virtual happy hour, please let us know what topics interest you and your area of expertise. We will be in touch when we hold a virtual happy hour that may be of interest to you.
We know that together, we can create a movement to truly Make America Great.
To be a part of any of the above initiatives, please contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also reach Allen of House United Movement at email@example.com.