Thirty-eight interested citizens, plus eight Braver Angels volunteers, participated in the Red/Blue Workshop held in Stevenson April 22. Braver Angels is a national movement to bring liberals, conservatives, and others together at the grassroots level for open and honest discussions about their different points of view as well as what they hold in common.
The workshop was one type of Braver Angels initiative. Discussions were facilitated within and between two groups, one identifying themselves as “Red-leaning,” the other as “Blue-leaning.” A typical exercise had each group examining what they considered to be the most common false stereotypes that the other group held about them. Then, the task was to correct that stereotype, explaining their own side’s perspective. Finally, they were challenged to expand their point of view and identify any kernel of truth within the stereotype.
That’s only one example of how the groups were engaged during this all-day event. A variety of challenging topics emerged throughout the day, including interpretation of the U.S. Constitution; gun controls and gun rights; abortion rights; environmental regulations; relationship between church and state; and immigration policies. It was refreshing to see the discussions unfold, where nobody was changing their position, merely explaining it, and where nearly every person became genuinely curious about the rationale behind an opposing point of view.
Braver Angels exist because we believe humans are capable of having passionate and honest differences of opinion, while maintaining the ability to work for progress with those who don’t share the same perspective (but who often share the same values).
If you’re interested in learning more about the Braver Angels national organization, check out braverangels.org, and if you’re specifically interested in learning more about Braver Angels in the Gorge, contact Doug Roof at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Roof is involved in the local chapter of Braver Angels.