Jackie Congedo — In Conversation
Why Good People are Divided by Politics: Beyond Civility, a Reflection
The Beyond Civility Project hosted a community-wide program in September focusing on the Role of Government and how it should work for the people. Civic leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, led a discussion on bestselling author Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, about the different ways conservatives and liberals view the world and how those differences contribute to the polarization we are experiencing today.
The program is in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Mayerson JCC. Bob Rack, Beyond Civility co-founder and retired Chief Circuit Mediator at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, reflects on the program.
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), part of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, recently hosted a Beyond Civility program on the Role of Government. Local civic leaders—Common Pleas Judge Fanon Rucker, State Rep. Brigid Kelly, lawyer and Beyond Civility board member Greg Adams, and small business owner Melissa Wegman—took the stage at the Mayerson JCC to answer questions about their personal family backgrounds and about what they believe government’s roles and responsibilities are (or should be) in society. They touched on, among other things, government’s role in healthcare, education, and income inequality.
Beyond Civility was created six years ago as a bi-partisan exploration into the barriers and bridges to effective communication among civically active citizens who hold opposing beliefs about solutions to some of the country’s most critical problems. As citizens, we tend to segregate ourselves into ideological silos that are constantly reinforced by our favorite partisan news sources and catastrophizing political fundraising, and opportunities for genuine across-the-isle dialogue keep shrinking.
Beyond Civility’s leaders and planners are coming to share Jonathan Haidt’s opinion that building personal relationships is probably the best, and maybe only, way to improve understanding and respect between people with strong, opposing beliefs. We thank special program guests, Commissioner Denise Driehaus, Greater Cincinnati Islamic Center president Shakila Ahmad, COAST founder Chris Finney, and Board of Elections member Chip Gerhardt, who each spoke to the power of relationships in their professional experience. We are most grateful to the JCRC for its support for and shared commitment to the values and much-needed work of community building across ideological divides.
The Jewish Community Relations Council and the Mayerson JCC are just two of the more than fifty programs and agencies funded by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: We look at the whole picture, taking into account the diverse needs of the entire community. Together we can do almost anything.