Advice to the Next US President: Healing the Nation

A Chazen Senior Scholar offers heartfelt words on how to unite the country again. 

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Dear Mr. President,

While first prize is winning the election, the second prize may actually be more formidable to achieve—healing our divided country.

Everything we have seen in recent years on our country and reflected in our course, Bridging the American Divides, keeps reminding us that we are in separate tribes, with what appears to be entirely different facts and even truths. As such, each “side” assumes they are right and we dig in further. 

In order to heal, we need a totally different approach. It starts with a profound realization that what everyone does makes perfect sense to them and how they have experienced the world. You don’t have to endorse anything more than the understanding that if you were in their shoes, it might make sense given their lens, family background and personal journey. There is no point in saying that it is “wrong” but rather start with accepting that their views have been shaped and deeply reside in their head and heart.

That acceptance, if not empathy, is probably the only way we can start to heal. It will not magically remove the divides, but it just may provide the foundation for beginning to heal and bridge our differences.

About the researcher

Todd Jick

Professor Jick is a leading expert in Leadership and Organizational Change. He has had a long career of both academic and consulting work in...

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