I don’t know about you but I’m alarmed at how divided the US has become. I never believed in the melting pot myth. It was something we liked to tell ourselves about who we were as a nation – undivided. But now, we’re almost down to two tents lobbing insults, threats, disregard, and actual hate back and forth across an overcrowded campground of print, TV shows, and social media. Maybe your tent is located in the NYT or WaPo section. Or your section wouldn’t use either paper to line a birdcage. Or you’re a foot soldier in the lucrative media wars of Fox vs. MSNBC and CNN. Or you turn to Twitter and Facebook. I won’t list all of the “my way or the highway” positions we’ve been herded into. What we’re doing to each other in the name of “our” truth is shocking.

And now, conflicting opinions and information are being used to silence or cancel each other, and have quietly replaced the First Amendment—our democratic pillar of free speech. We used to hold it sacred. Now what we can say publicly in almost any forum is being decided by the government currently in power, mega-corporations, print/social media, and these 3 guys. The more the conflict, the bigger their profits.

It’s hard to remember when we agreed on anything. We’ve been encouraged to feel superior to “those other campers.” According to Jonathan Darrow, a bioethics assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, “Private media platforms are the new public square, not beholden to First Amendment obligations yet taking on a government-like censorship function.” He offers that censorship is communicable (like a disease) and has the potential to tip the scales of public judgment one way or the other. This can lead to a downward spiral of intolerance in which minority views are increasingly suppressed.

Three Ways To Fold Up Your Tent

I owe a lot to my friend *Molly McCormick, a personal coach, who at just the right time alerted me to a program she offers. It’s called Positive Intelligence and has personally made all the difference. You can find out more about it at https://www.positiveintelligence.com/

Through the program and with Molly’s guidance, I was able to address the various forms of judgements I make about myself, people, and situations. And now I have something better. I am learning how to create more empathy for myself and my flawed-fellow human beings (aren’t we all) in a dark time I wasn’t prepared for.

The program is a synthesis of the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience, cognitive and positive psychology, and performance science. And the basis of Shirzad Chamine’s New York Times bestselling book Positive Intelligence, Stanford lectures, and the online program PQ. One of my favorite new tools, supported with research data, is this:

No one can be 100% wrong. They are at least 10% right.

And it’s up to us to find out what their 10% is and facilitate a conversation and/or acknowledgment. The Venn diagram illustrates this hopeful concept. That 10% is in there somewhere. We just have to find it.

Here’s another suggestion that might help keep a friendship or family relationship from disintegrating – step into someone else’s shoes. You never know what their life is like or what challenges they face. Empathy can only heal, not hurt.

Photo credit Jeshoots.com

And about those tents. Maybe the third solution is to sew them together and make one big tent. More room for everyone since we’re all in this world together. According to former Congressman Luis Gutierrez,

“In the end, the bigger the tent we build, the more successful we’ll be.”

*A note about Molly McCormick. Here is how you can find out more about the amazing PQ program from a skilled personal coach.  https://mollymccormick.org