“People are making up stories about ‘the other’ — Muslims, Trump voters, whoever ‘the other’ is... ‘They don’t have the values that we have. They don’t behave like we do. They are not nice. They are evil.’
If there is one idea on which people across the U.S. political spectrum can agree, it's that our country is deeply divided. We are living through a degree of polarization that cuts to the heart of how we perceive other groups of people, and even we feel is worthy of empathy.
Last week, The New York Times amplified—and added its voice to—the chorus of people who are calling for peacebuilding within this country. Its lead article in the National section featured insights from Karuna Center’s founder and Senior Peacebuilding Advisor, Dr. Paula Green, focusing on her work with a newer, independent initiative, Hands Across the Hills—which has been designed and facilitated in the U.S. based in Paula's experience working in war-affected countries through Karuna Center. In addition to highlighting lessons learned by leaders within Hands Across the Hills, the article shares wisdom from our colleagues in other peacebuilding organizations, including Fund for Peace, and the leadership of Alliance for Peacebuilding, a network of which we are a member.
For those of you who haven’t already read the article, we recommend it:
- The Fragile States Index managed by Fund for Peace assessed the United States as the fourth-most-worsened country in 2018, after Qatar, Spain and Venezuela.
- The Economist's Intelligence Unit has downgraded the United States from a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy."
As we continue to plan more U.S.-based peacebuilding work--in addition to our programs in other areas at risk of violent conflict worldwide—we would always like to hear more about what you are doing and where you see the need.
One thing is certain: we can no longer fool ourselves that "it can't happen here." Instead, we need to build resilience against "us vs. them" thinking, in all its many forms.