“There is nothing in the genius of America more precious today than the spirit of religious and political tolerance in its application to our own people.” – Paul Harris
Rotarians Depolarize America
The Rotary Club of Three Creeks (Vancouver, WA) is a RAGFP Peacebuilder Club. This Peacebuilder Club is active in Rotary Peacebuilder District 5100 and they are involved in many great peacebuilding projects and initiatives. As public political discourse took a turn for the worse in recent United States elections, their Peacebuilder Committee Co-Chair Dan Sockle began wondering how Rotarians can better share Rotary’s guiding principles of friendship and service with non-Rotarians of all political backgrounds or opinions. If the Four-Way Test can work within Rotary club and district meetings to keep everyone focused upon areas of mutual agreement, why shouldn’t this work in American civil discourse?
He offers an insightful presentation to fellow Rotary clubs and districts called: If everyone is screaming, who’s listening? Learn More
One program that Dan, RAGFP members, and other Rotarian peacebuilders are using to inspire peaceful and healthy political discourse is Better Angels. This non-profit organization offers events and education designed to “depolarize America.” Their Red/Blue Workshops visit cities across America and feature activities, listening exercises, and co-operative skills training designed to get even the most hardened political partisans talking (and listening) to one another. A few of the workshop outcomes include:
– More understanding of the experiences, feelings, and beliefs of those who differ with us in today’s politically polarized environment.
– Discovering any areas of commonality in addition to differences.
– Learning something that might be helpful to others in our community and the nation.
Dan will help facilitate Better Angels events in the Portland, Oregon on November 4th, and November 12th, 2018. You may plan to attend these upcoming workshops in the Pacific Northwest or visit Better-Angels.org for information about how to organize a Red/Blue Workshop event in your in your area.
With the support of Rotarian peacebuilders nationwide, Better Angels is a program that is bringing people together to solve divisive political issues. Even the national media is taking notice, as the program recently garnished attention from ABC News and other media giants.
Better Angels represent only one example of how Rotarians are sharing Rotary’s guiding principles of cooperation and civility outside of their Rotary clubs and districts.
Rotarians in America also welcome politicians from both major parties into their club meetings to discuss important issues of the day in a friendly, inclusive environment. Two recent examples from East Coast to West Coast include The Rotary Club of Ludlow welcoming Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, while across the country The Rotary Club of Sunnyside hosted Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat. Scott spoke about the need for bipartisanship and Ferguson educated Rotarians about the opioid crisis. There was no shouting nor bickering at either Rotary meeting, and no memes were posted on Facebook feeds afterward.
Rotarians utilize the Four-Way Test to keep political conversations civil and peaceful.
- Is it Truth?
- Is it Fair to all concerned?
- Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
- Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?
As in all areas of focus and community involvement, Rotarians consider “service above self” and inspire peaceful political discussion in any and all “political” environments throughout the 113-year history of Rotary International.