With malice toward none

Polarization is high, but Braver Angels is working to heal the divide.

With malice toward none

By Flannery Winchester

Braver Angels seeks to depolarize American politics. That’s a tough mission, given that polarization is a “defining feature of American politics today,” according to the Pew Research Center

But it’s also a crucial mission. “We haven’t reached the point of violence and chaos – yet. But surely in our increasingly and dangerously fractured nation, we all need to be touched by something ‘better’ within us,” their website states.

To that end, Braver Angels is specifically working to combat “affective political polarization.” That type of polarization is based not on issue disagreements, but on feelings of personal contempt and distrust for the other side. 

This election year, Braver Angels is asking folks to take the “With Malice Toward None” pledge. The phrase comes from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, where he reflected on the Civil War, which was still not quite over. He said, “With malice toward none; with charity for all […] let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

Those words, and that idea, give inspiration to the Braver Angels pledge, where the organization wants people to commit: 

“Regardless of how the election turns out, I will not hold hate, disdain, or ridicule for those who voted differently from me. Whether I am pleased or upset about the outcome, I will seek to understand the concerns and aspirations of those who voted differently and will look for opportunities to work with people with whom I disagree.”

Will you take the pledge? We’re inviting CCL volunteers to make this commitment in advance of the upcoming election, which is now four weeks away. 

If you need some help putting your pledge into practice, you can also attend CCL’s monthly workshops in partnership with Braver Angels. Upcoming dates and programming are:

  • Oct. 24 – Depolarizing Within. Register here!
  • Dec. 6 – Bridging the Divide. This will be offered as part of CCL’s December conference event, and registration opens this Saturday.
  • Jan. and Feb. 2021 workshops will be announced soon.

“We have lots of people interested, and usually over 100 folks sign up for each session,” says Susan Adams, CCL’s Third Coast Regional Coordinator, who has helped bring these workshops to CCLers. “Particularly in our current political climate, we have folks coming who are eager to talk with friends who are super polarized, and they are coming away with skills that go beyond climate.”

In these last few weeks until the election, Susan says, “I find the work of Braver Angels particularly important right now. It gives me hope that our democracy is stronger than we’re led to believe and that under it all, civil discourse is still possible and we share common values.”

We hope you take the pledge and join us at a future workshop!

Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.