President Jimmy Carter wrote an article in January this year in which he identifies the cure for our cancer:
“[W]e must resist the polarization that is reshaping our identities around politics. We must focus on a few core truths: that we are all human, we are all Americans and we have common hopes for our communities and our country to thrive. We must find ways to re-engage across the divide, respectfully and constructively, by holding civil conversations with family, friends and co-workers and standing up collectively to the forces dividing us.”
I’m sure this rings true to you as it did to me, but what does it look like in practice? How do we administer this cure?
We must cut out the cancer with real conversations. Real conversations remind us of the experience and the values we share with our neighbors. Real conversations remove the carcinogenic lies told by the algorithm and show us truth.
So go have real, face-to-face conversations. Seek out people you might not otherwise interact with and spend time listening. Become a mentor at Montgomery County Ohio College Promise. Take a class at Rosewood Arts Center, chat in the front yard with your neighbor whose political signs give you pause. Don’t run away from that conversation over pumpkin pie later today. Remember those people are your friends, your neighbors, your family.
When you think about it, conversation is the only tool we have for this American experiment. If we lose it — if the cancer corrupts it — violence and coercion are all that’s left.
Evan is a writer, climber, aerospace engineer and self-proclaimed audiobook nerd. He grew up working on a ranch in Montana, has lived and worked across the United States and currently resides in Kettering.