COVID-19 Response

Community is Essential

headshot of Mark Chupp

Mark Chupp
Transformed by the Pandemic (a series)
May 28, 2020

I know many are like me, circulating stories and memes on social media that reinforce and deepen my own political views. My relationships, both online and in person, have the same quality. The exchange fits into a narrow bandwidth, where people hold back from saying anything that challenges dominant views of the group.

We are sorting as a society, more than ever, through where we live and who we socialize with. We avoided contact with those of different political views long before the pandemic. Studies have shown that people in this country are increasingly less likely to live near someone of a different political party or worldview. We filter news and information through outlets and social media groups that align with our own views. President Trump and his polarizing behavior is not the cause but an outgrowth of this process, who is now propelling it even further by using cultural wars to deflect from his failings.

While this sorting might provide short-term comfort, it erodes what makes society work. This is not serving us. Fear of the other has been kindled into overt discrimination and outright hatred. We are more divided, less civil and we have lost the ability to engage those who see the world differently from us. In a crisis like now, we do not even know how to grieve together, let alone develop a unified strategy to combat a common enemy.

Our democracy muscles have atrophied, making us weaker as individuals and a society. Bipartisan solutions are rarely achieved. Tolerance and forbearance are belittled, making true dialogue to reach mutual understanding a remote possibility.

We can overcome this. We must. If we are to survive the pandemic and the dis-ease that pervaded the country before COVID, we must realize that community is essential. Authentic community recognizes that we are all interconnected. When someone ignores social distancing and does not wear a mask in public, they risk the health of others, of everyone. We are all connected.

Community is essential. We are better together. Nature teaches us that diversity strengthens ecosystems. With exercise, we can get back in shape by building relationships across difference. We need to rebuild our social fabric by valuing differences and including all people, regardless of their political views.

Meg Wheatley states that you don’t fear people whose story you know. This requires turning toward one another, being intentional, noticing. Slowing down during the pandemic has limited--and sharpened—our ability to connect. Let us intentionally seek out deeper connections with those unlike us, those we all too often dismiss or ignore.

There are many organizations building bridges across differences now

  • Braver Angels is a citizens’ organization uniting red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. They host online dialogues.
  • The Sustained Dialogue Institute has local university chapters and uses a 5-step dialogue to change process in which people listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn.
  • Essential Partners has worked for decades to build a community strengthened by differences, boldly engaging diverse people around their core values, beliefs and identities.

What will you do to engage someone different from you, to build trusting relationships across political differences? Will you host a dialogue? We at the Community Innovation Network are ready to provide support to those building bridges.

In building bridges across race, the task lies disproportionately on those with white privilege. We must overcome what Robin DiAngelo describes as white fragility, a state in which racial stress becomes intolerable for whites. As white people, we need to take away the “protective pillows” we have built and engage people of color and embrace the racial stress of educating ourselves on the human impact of systemic racism. Notice, listen, learn—follow their lead and join the movement for racial equity. This will create an existential crisis, where we have to reconstruct what it means to be American, and to be white. Racism is a stain on the soul of the country. We must step up to face it. Lives depend on it.

In turning toward each other we have much to gain, individually and as a society when everyone has a place at the table. Turning toward one another and seeing the other’s story, we let go of the image we have created of them. We see them as human, as beloved. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted the essence of this process when he said, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”


社区是至关重要的
大流行带来的转变:a系列

作者:Mark Chupp (mark.chupp@case.edu) 翻译:崔馨元
2020年5月28日

我想很多人会发现自己和我一样,在社交媒体上发布动态和表情包,来加强和深化自己的政治观点。在我的人际关 系里,无论是在现实还是在现实生活中,类似的观点表达都有着同样的质量。人们在一个狭窄的领域里交流观点,在这里,人们不愿发表任何挑战主流观点的言论。

整个社会都在进行分类,我们比以往任何时候都更注重选择住在哪里,和谁交往。早在大流行之前,我们就一直避免接触持不同政治观点的人。研究表明,这个国家(美国)的人越来越不愿意住在不同政党或不同世界观的人附近。我们选择符合我们观点的社交媒体,从而过滤新闻和接收信息。特朗普总统及其两极分化的举动并不是这个过程的原因,而是这一过程的产物。他现在利用文化战争来转移人们对他的失败的注意力,从而进一步推动这个过程。

尽管这种分类可能会在短期内提供相互尊重的舒适避风港,但它却侵蚀了使社会运转的动力。可这对我们没有好处。对他人的恐惧已被点燃成公然的歧视和彻底的仇恨。我们之间的分歧更大,文明程度更低,已经失去了与那些用不同眼光看待世界的人打交道的能力。

在像现在这样的危机中,我们甚至不知道如何一起哀悼,更不用说制定统一的战略来对抗共同的敌人了。

我们的民主力量已经萎缩,使我们作为个人和社会更加虚弱。宽容和忍耐被轻视,使得通过真正的对话来达成相互理解的可能性微乎其微。

但,我们能够克服这一点,而且我们必须克服。我们必须认识到,社区是至关重要的,才能在COVID之前、在这场萎缩和动荡席卷全国时生存下来。真正的社区让我们意识到构建人类命运共同体的必要性。当一个人的行为不考虑他人的福祉时,比如忽视社交距离和不戴口罩,他们的行为会危及他人和每个人的健康。我们都是相联的。

社区至关重要,共同体必不可少。大自然告诉我们,多样性可以增强生态系统。我们可以通过练习来建立跨越差异的关系以恢复我们的生态健康。我们需要通过重视差异包容所有人,重建我们的社会结构。

梅格·惠特利(Meg Wheatley)说,不要害怕那些你知道他们故事的人。这需要我们有意识地转向彼此,并注意到这一点。此次大流行让我们放慢脚步也限制了我们与外界联系的范围,但也提高了我们联系的能力。当我们变得更有意识时,让我们寻找那些与我们不同的人之间更深层的联系,比如那些我们经常忽略或忽视的人。

现在有很多组织正在建立跨越差异的桥梁:

  • Braver Angels是一个将红色和蓝色美国人联合在一起的公民组织,旨在瓦解美国的两极分化。他们经常主持在线对话。
  • Sustained Dialogue Institute 在当地大学设有分部,采用5步对话的方式来改变进程。在这个过程中,人们彼此倾听得足够深,可以根据他们所学的知识进行改变。
  • 几十年来,Essential Partners一直致力于建立一个因分歧而更强的社区。他们大胆地让有不同核心价值观、信仰和身份的人参与进来。

你会做些什么和与你不同的人打交道?你将如何跨政治分歧建立信任关系?你会主持一场交换意见的对话吗?在当地,我们Community Innovation Network随时准备为那些搭建桥梁的人/组织/机构提供支持。

在跨越种族的桥梁建设中,任务不成比例地落在了拥有白人特权的人身上。我们必须克服罗宾·迪安杰洛(Robin DiAngelo)所说的“白人的脆弱性”,在这种状态下,白人无法忍受种族压力。作为白人,我们需要拿掉我们建立的“保护枕头”,让有色人种参与进来,并承担起教育自己了解系统性种族主义对人类影响的种族压力。注意、倾听、学习——跟随他们的脚步,加入种族平等运动。这将造成一场生存危机,我们必须重建身为美国人和白人的意义。种族主义是这个国家灵魂上的污点。我们必须迎接挑战。生命取决于它。

当每个人都能在谈判桌上占有一席之地时,无论是作为个人还是作为一个社会,我们都能从彼此的转向中获益良多。我们转向彼此,看到了对方的故事,便放下了我们为他们创造的形象。我们将他们视为人类,视为至爱。马丁·路德·金(Martin Luther King, Jr.)指出了这一过程的本质,他说:“爱是唯一能化敌为友的力量。”