Civil society is only possible when people feel connected to each other, and feel that they have a stake in each other’s success.
The insurrection was a movement of people who felt that the institutions of our nation no longer represented them. They no longer believed that our government was “we the people,” but “they the people.” For much of this new century our nation has been moving towards a fractured uncivil society, in which policy emerges from one simple question: “does this come from us or them?”
The new administration promises to bring a welcome team of qualified, progressive, and adult professionals. The victory of the first African American senator and the first Jewish senator from Georgia not only affirms the historic coalition that worked to bring civil rights to the deep south, but gives a sliver of breathing room for the new administration.
These developments allow us the hope that our government will be able to resume functioning. A qualified team can begin to bring an effective response to the pandemic. Many of the most egregious atrocities of the outgoing administration can be halted. Many of the terrible policies can be suspended, and the work of replacing them can begin. The hijacking of the census to disenfranchise much of America will be blocked at the federal level.
The fracturing of our nation, however, will not be easily healed. We have no common set of facts, and no ground for dialogue. We have no appetite for listening and seeking common ground, only an increasing aptitude for spiking the ball on each other in social media.
Our differing communities seem to believe that the key to our nation’s health is the total capitulation of the other side. Even our progressive communities are separated by those who demand purity and those who seek incremental change.
What we can do in these times is work. Join organizations like the IVI-IPO with a mission to lead and heal. Our charter is to expand dialogue, seek qualified and effective leaders, and engage our neighbors. These are the tasks I have set before our board for this year.
We cannot do this work alone. To begin, each one of you who reads this should reach out to one person who could join with us. Each person reaches another person may seem like a small way to begin such a mammoth undertaking, but it is the kind of small step that begins the most important of journeys.
Josef Michael Carr, Jr.
State Chair, IVI-IPO