25UNITYMAGAZINE.ORG NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
On a Sunday afternoon in May, in a large office space in Kansas City, Kansas, more than a dozen people
volunteered for a pilot workshop tentatively
titled “Building Bridges KC.” It was an
experiment to see if it was possible to bring
together people from across the political
spectrum and get them talking to each
other—even more important, to get them
listening to each other.
We taped off three areas of the room
and divided ourselves into three groups:
progressive, conservative, and “other.” We
then started sharing.
“I’ve lost both my parents,” someone
says, stepping forward into the center of the
room. Several others step forward, joining
each other. They stand together for a bit,
silently acknowledging this experience of
loss they have in common, then they all step
back behind their respective lines.
Someone else steps forward, saying, “I’m
an only child.” A few others come forth.
“I’ve struggled with depression,” I
admit. More than half the group joins me
in the center.
“I’m wearing blue underwear!” someone
calls out. We all have a good laugh, and it
lightens the mood quite a bit.
It didn’t take long for those lines of
tape to lose their meaning. By the end of
the exercise, we had no more liberals and
conservatives, Democrats or Republicans—
there was just us. In the months since, we’ve
continued to meet, talk, and work on our
listening and communication skills. We’ve
organized other workshops and had dinner
together, played pool, and sung karaoke.
We’ve formed new friendships and forged
I’d say our little experiment was a success.
A HOUSE DIVIDED
Since the 2016 election season, politics has
dominated the headlines. It’s dominated my
conversations with friends and coworkers.
Of course, it’s dominated my Facebook news
feed. I think it’s great that so many people are
finding their voices, figuring out where they
stand, and engaging in the political process.
A healthy and functioning democracy
depends upon it. What worries me is how
divided we’ve become as a nation.
I have friends and family of all different
beliefs and backgrounds. Many of them
are quite passionate and outspoken. In the
past year, I haven’t seen a lot of meaningful
conversation taking place among them—
mostly pointing fingers, hurling labels and
insults, or else carefully avoiding political
topics altogether. I’ve seen friendships
end, relationships strained, and families
split apart. I’ve seen my country locked
in a partisan stalemate for years, with no
compromise or solution in sight.
What happens when you cross the line—
to discover what you have in common
with the other side?
BY BEN NEAL
The divine intelligence
that keeps the stars
and planets in perfect
balance is at work in us
and all around us.