Never has our national conversation been more poisoned by divisive and demagogic rhetoric. Never has our need to stop and listen to one another, especially to those with whom we disagree, been more apparent.
The presidential campaign has been characterized by insolence among the candidates and fears, resentment and animosity among voters. Social media feeds are littered with unbridled rage, while friends and family are unable to exchange ideas without combusting. Political rallies have even turned violent.
Have we lost all sense of decency and sobriety in our discourse?
Thankfully there is hope, even where you’d least expect it. Listen First Project volunteers at the Republican and Democratic national conventions found many people in those hyper political environments anxious to engage in respectful conversations, to be heard but also to listen.
Thousands of people have signed the Listen First pledge this year — committing to fully listen to and consider another person’s views before sharing their own, prioritize respect and understanding in conversation, and encourage others to do the same.
The restoration of civil discourse starts with each of us as individuals, one conversation at a time. We can rise above the shameful vitriol of the 2016 campaign. On all sides, let’s commit to listen first, vote second this year, and continue listening over the years to come.
We’ll be stronger together when we make America listen again.