The United States is facing a cultural crisis. Increasingly in America today, we don’t just disagree; we distrust, dislike, even despise those who see the world differently. Animosity for positions is becoming contempt for the people who hold them. Difference and disagreement are deeply personal as we rage against and recoil from those we see as enemies across widening divides—political, racial, religious, economic and more. Most of us see fewer things that bind Americans together today and have few or no friends from the other side. The rate of loneliness has more than doubled to nearly 50%, creating a public health epidemic. We’re withdrawing from conversations—thereby eroding relationships and understanding—which threatens the foundational fabric of America. 75% of Americans say this problem has reached a crisis level, and 56% believe it will only get worse. Our condition is rapidly deteriorating into what’s now being described as a soft civil war.
But there is hope even in today's hyper-polarized and tribal society. Experts say the solution is to cultivate more positive social connections. We can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division by starting new conversations that bridge divides—move from 'us vs. them' to 'me and you.' Each person who listens first to understand tips the scales toward a stronger future for our nation, one built on relationships created by conversation. This is what the new National Conversation Project is all about! I hope you'll join us.
Pearce Godwin is Executive Director of National Conversation Project and CEO of Listen First Project