With outside temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, more than 160 SaddleBrooke residents viewed the Better Angels documentary on July 23 to see how citizens across the country are turning down political heat. Touched by what they saw on film, almost a third of those who attended the event hung around to discuss what they could do to encourage respectful conversations. Co-sponsors of the showing were SaddleBrooke’s Community Church, Freethinkers, Democratic Club, and League of Women Voters.
The approximately hour-long documentary will be shown again in the MountainView Ballroom East on Oct. 30 at 3 p.m.
The filmed highlights of a Better Angels Red/Blue Workshop held in Ohio is being shown here and elsewhere to encourage respect for differences rather than to advocate for any position on the right or left. Viewers watch conservative and liberal participants who arrive suspicious and somewhat hostile toward the other side leave with more understanding and affection. The video shows depolarization in process with participants respectfully disagreeing and realizing that those who disagree with them aren’t necessarily bad people.
Better Angels holds workshops across the country to bring people together and civility back to politics. Their mission is to have Americans see each other as friends, not enemies, no matter where they sit on the political spectrum. The organization’s name comes from Lincoln’s 1861 call to a divided nation to be touched by the “better angels of our nature.” What the citizens organization encourages and teaches is a better way of talking politics.
Better Angels Red/Blue workshops, like the one shown in the documentary, have an equal number of people leaning right and leaning left participate in carefully structured exercises, examine common stereotypes of each side of the political spectrum, listen, and look for common ground. In a safe environment, participants engage to understand and learn from each other, even if they still disagree. Tucson held its first Red/Blue workshop in May. In addition, Better Angels sponsors free skills workshops, like the one held in Phoenix this June, for those who want to learn helpful ways to discuss difficult issues. You can even find skills training online at better-angels.org.
Over 500 communities have inquired about hosting Better Angels workshops and over 300 workshops have been held. You’ll find a Better Angels presence in all 50 states, and as their website announces, “anyone interested in having better conversations with people on the other side of the political aisle” is invited to get involved. The SaddleBrooke Better Angels events are for residents of both SaddleBrooke One and SaddleBrooke TWO.