NEW YORK (AP) – A few years ago, Dave Isay began to worry about America when he saw that the situation between political parties was evolving into what he called “disconnection – great emptiness.”
“I never worry about people arguing with each other because it’s healthy,” Isaiah said. “But I was concerned that people were treating each other with contempt.”
Isaiah, who received a MacArthur “Genius” grant, the founder of the six-time Peabody Award և StoryCorps Oral History Project, came up with the idea. glances ագ arise to sit պարզապես just to talk to each other.
It would not solve everything. But he felt it was the beginning, he called his initiative a small step.
One small step Isaiah took in 2018 is growing into a non-profit initiative aimed at narrowing America’s more toxic political differences. Humanitarian groups, which by law should remain non-political, may be ideally suited to that end. Last year, foundations donated $ 57 million to programs such as civic education and leadership, according to the Candid Research Group.
“One small step is the idea that we should not despise each other, that you can look at the political split, see each other as human beings,” said Isa.
That’s what Gayle Robinson: Kate Garo said during a discussion hosted by One Small Step late last month, which will eventually be heard on the StoryCorps podcast.
Robinson is a 74-year-old retiree who served in the administration of former Virginia Gov. Tim Kane.
Garon is a 42-year-old real estate agent.
The two women live in Richmond, about 20 minutes apart. Although they would never have met if it were not for their joint involvement in one small step. During an hour-long conversation, Robinson and Kate Garo spoke about their families and their concerns. Although the most powerful experience for the two women was recognizing their commonalities.
“I was involved in racial reconciliation efforts going back to high school when I was on the NAACP Youth Council,” Robinson said. “So this is something that is very close to my heart.”
“Our values are very similar,” he added. “I have never judged people on the basis of their political affiliation. It has nothing to do with your character. Unless you’re a fool. How we deal with each other, civilization, is possible. “Dignity matters.”
Such a revelation was made by the politically independent Garo.
“People pay a lot of attention to disagreements, especially in politics, where many people forget how similar they are,” he said. “In the midst of the COVID elections, we feel like an island, we feel very isolated. “Showing that we are not is really possible.”
This hardly means that they both agree on political or other issues.
“Although we talked about politics, I can guess where he stands, he can guess where I stand, but we were not really talking about politics in the end,” Garon said. “I really appreciate him, his perspective, I feel that he really values me, my perspective.”
After their conversation, Garon և Robinson each reached out to StoryCorps to share their contact information. They intend to stay in touch և hope to meet in person after the COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
As Isa describes it, “A Little Step” is based on the theories of Gordon Allport, a Harvard professor who explored the roots of prejudice and discrimination in the 1950s.
“When you put enemies face to face, և they have visceral experience with each other, that feeling of hatred և fear can melt,: you can see the person anew,” said Isa.
However, he warned. “If you do it wrong, you can actually make the situation worse.”
That’s why StoryCorps gradually launched its new initiative. But as the expansion progressed, the expansion slowed, with some 800 people meeting in pairs in some 800 cities. In Austin, Texas, for example, Amina Amdin and Joseph Oze Weidknecht discussed being on opposite sides of the protest against Donald Trump and finding common ground. In the StoryCorps Connect app, father and son strengthened their relationship after feeling apart for decades.
Some of the recorded conversations have become part of the StoryCorps NPR podcast. Like all StoryCorps conversations, they were entered into the Library of Congress to preserve history. And this month, boosted by the National Advertising Board’s National Advertising Campaign, one small step is ready to grow even bigger.
“The dream of taking a small step is to convince the country that it is our patriotic duty to see humanity in the people with whom we do not agree, which is shooting the full moon,” said Isa.
To promote symmetry, StoryCorps has attracted both liberal and conservative donors. Donors to One Small Step include the Hearthland Foundation, funded by Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, known as leading Hollywood donors, and the Charles Koch, funded by billionaire philanthropist known to Republican candidates. to support և conservative issues.
“We have long had a vision of a world where people work together to solve problems and respect each other as different,” said Sarah Ruger, director of free speech at the Charles Koch Institute. “What really helps people build different bridges between different relationships?” It turns out that stories are one of the most powerful tools. ”
Rachel Levine, executive director of The Hearthland Foundation, said that as storytellers, Spielberg և Capshaw realizes the story of fairy tales and has been supporting Isa’s work at StoryCorps for two decades. The US Shoah Foundation, founded by Spielberg in 1994, has worked to preserve the stories of Holocaust survivors.
“History is key because you help to make people human,” Levine said. “We live in such silos in our country. There is something about listening to someone else’s story, especially audio. There is so much intimacy in it. ”
“People need to know each other,” Levine added. “They need to understand each other’s experiences, their perspectives. One small step helps.”
Similarly, Ruger said that charities can be modeled on the type of partnership they want to see in society.
“Innovation is the most important thing,” he said. “And innovation requires mental challenges – diversity.”
Heidi Arthur, Chief Advertising Officer for the Advertising Council, said “A Little Step” corresponds to her group’s “Love Has No Labels” campaign, which manages to “reap the most divisive moments in our country and deliver messages of hope for unity and inclusion.” people. ” Launched in 2015, the campaign includes recent commercials related to the growing number of anti-Asian hate crimes during the epidemic.
“There is no silver ball,” said Arthur. “But did you know that a lot of meaningful action can be added to the real seismic change in how people interact with each other?”
It was originally planned to take a small step forward to plan it online in 2023. But Isaiah said the epidemic changed that. Last April, “One Little Step” was digitized and working through the Vonage communication platform, which donated $ 1 million to the project.
“Remote interviews are in some ways more effective than face-to-face interviews because you don’t have to worry about geography,” said Isay. “These are still strangers coming together, people just feel a little more secure digitally.”
That sense of security can be the key to success.
“There is a place to shout, but there is also a place to whisper in people’s ears,” said Isa. “Change can happen, too. We are hopeful that we can help the country take a small step back from this small abyss we are in now. »
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