presenting things out of context to make the stories punchier. Similarly, people sometimes use social media recklessly,
escalating conflict by circulating false and inflammatory stories. Indeed, the Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” to be
the word of the year, reflecting the view that objective facts
are less important than emotion and belief.
Engaging our society in social healing will require redoubled efforts by projects promoting real empathy and care for
people in other "bubbles," especially (but not exclusively) for
people in groups that have suffered historic injustices. I don’t
know whether these efforts would make any difference in
healing the deepening wounds of polarization that have been
getting worse in recent decades. It seems unlikely that such
efforts would be sufficient by themselves to reverse this trend.
Other strategies are needed to counteract those purposely
propagating deception and hatred. But promoting constructive dialogue could help increase understanding and concern
across lines of mistrust and disrespect and heal some painful
wounds. In any case, it seems like a worthwhile effort.
This approach was reflected in President Obama's farewell address: “Hearts must change. It won’t change
overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to
change. But if our democracy is to work in this increasingly
diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the
advice of a great character in American fiction — Atticus
Finch who said, 'You never really understand a person until
you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb
into his skin and walk around in it.'
“For blacks and other minority groups, it means tying our
own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of
people in this country face — not only the refugee, or the immi-
grant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also
the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem
like he’s got advantages, but has seen his world upended by
economic and cultural and technological change. We have to
pay attention, and listen.
“For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the
effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the
’60s that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re
not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness. When they wage peaceful protest, they’re not
demanding special treatment but the equal treatment that our
“For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves
that the stereotypes about immigrants today were used, almost
word for word, about the Irish, and Italians, and Poles — who it
was said were going to destroy the fundamental character of
America. And as it turned out, America wasn’t weakened by the
presence of these newcomers; these newcomers embraced
this nation’s creed, and this nation was strengthened.
“So regardless of the station that we occupy, we all have to
try harder. We all have to start with the premise that each of
our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do;
that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their
children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as
1This article is adapted from blog posts originally published on
the Indisputably blog and reposted on mediate.com in the
months following the 2016 US election. See indisputably.org and
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