Mediate This!

Interview with Dr. Peter T. Coleman "The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization"

July 16, 2021 Matthew Brickman, Sydney Mitchell Season 1 Episode 33
Mediate This!
Interview with Dr. Peter T. Coleman "The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization"
Show Notes Transcript

Matthew Brickman and Sydney Mitchell interview esteemed Social-Organizational Psychologist Dr. Peter T. Coleman ,  author of the book, "The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization."

Dr. Peter T. Coleman holds a Ph.D. in Social-Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. He is Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University where he holds a joint-appointment at Teachers College and The Earth Institute and teaches courses in Conflict Resolution, Social Psychology, and Social Science Research.

https://www.thewayoutofpolarization.com
The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

https://sps.columbia.edu/faculty/peter-t-coleman-phd

Peter T. Coleman, Ph.D.

Lecturer; Executive Director, Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity in the Earth Institute
https://twitter.com/PeterTColeman1 



Mediate This!:

Hi, my name is Sydney Mitchell. Hi, I'm Matthew Brickman , Florida Supreme court mediator. Welcome to the mediate, this podcast, where we discuss everything mediation and conflict resolution.

Matthew Brickman:

Welcome Dr. Coleman. It's an honor to have you on the podcast.

Sydney Mitchell:

We've been very excited for this time, so thank you. Thank you for being here.

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Oh, it's , it's, I'm very happy to be here and to talk to you,

Sydney Mitchell:

Dr. Peter Coleman is a social psychologist and researcher, and is a renowned expert on constructive conflict resolution and sustainable peace. He is a professor of psychology and education, and also the executive director of the advanced consortium on cooperation, conflict and complexity at the earth Institute at Columbia university. He is also the founding director of the Institute for psychological science and practice at teacher's college at Columbia university

Matthew Brickman:

To list a few of many accomplishments in 2003, Dr. Coleman became the first recipient of the early career award from the American psychological association division 48 society for the study of peace, conflict and violence. And in 2015 was awarded the Morton Deutsch conflict resolution award by the American psychological association and a Marie Curie fellowship from the European union in 2018, Dr. Coleman was awarded the peace award from meaningful world and celebration of their 30th anniversary and the UN's international day of peace. And he is the author of making conflict work, harnessing the power of disagreement and the 5% finding solutions to seemingly impossible conflicts among many other books. His most recent book is called the way out, how to overcome toxic polarization. So, so let me just first start out. I , I started reading your book , um, and I was almost, I was interested in going well . He wants to come on my podcast. Um, so first off, how did you even find out about the podcast?

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

That is a good question. I think , um, well I've heard of the podcast before. I think I've caught snippets of it before. Um, and then I think it probably came through , uh , Columbia university press Meredith Howard. Who's the publicist who works with them , um, and identified this, I think they set this up. So , um, you know, again, I I've heard of you, but they reached out to you directly, I believe.

Matthew Brickman:

Yeah. So, so it was interesting cause , cause I was, I was reading, you know , the , the , uh, in the beginning of your book and what I just found amazing is, and I'm just going to tell everybody, get the book. It actually works because if it didn't work Peter and I wouldn't be sitting here , um, because of the fact that you and I are on absolute polar opposites of a political view , um, of, you know, and , and probably just a lot of other views, but right now in this society is, as you explained in your book and whatnot, this country is divided , uh , massively divided and basically on politics, if not even religion to politics, but the problem is people are caught up in this debate dialogue. And I think it's important, you know, as a, as a mediator and I've been, I've been mediating for 14 years. Um, and I specifically specialize in family mediation. Um, I believe that look, if we can get the family rights , the trickles all the way up to the top. Um, and so, but the problem is people just get into this debate and they look at what are the differences now , what unites, what is the commonality? Um, and so even if you and I have different political views or different social economics or religious, doesn't matter where you, you know, if we look at what unites us, which is peace, how do we create peace then the rest of it doesn't matter.

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I mean, I think that obviously there's a place for debate and more competitive approaches to communication. We learn through debate, we can challenge one another through debate, but when political divisions get as ensconced as they are today with a, you know , 50 plus year trajectory of increasing entity and, and vilification of the other side and physically moving away from each other and cognitively over simplifying our world, when those kinds of phenomenon happened and we get trapped in those cycles, then debate is just, you know, it's just bait. It just, you know, triggers in us , uh , kind of emotions and escalation and frustration and attack. And it doesn't get us anywhere other than further apart. So I think in these circumstances , um, debate is a problem. And , um, I think that, you know, dialogue, which I think a lot of Americans don't understand or misunderstand because when we say dialogue, we usually mean debate, right? It's like, all right, let's dialogue about this. Well, it really means if it's about politics, it really means that my job is to prove you're wrong. I'm right. Listen to you weaponize your assumptions and your flaws and your logic and come after you, right. In order to win the argument. And that's a very particular kind of cognitive process. It's a more closed process of persuasion and not what I would call an open process of discovery and learning dialogue is that right . Dialogue is a space where you can start to discover things about yourself and your own assumptions on the other, and the issues are more nuanced , um , and open you up to learning and discovery. And when we're so certain that the other side is wrong is, you know, Malin tension is trying to do harm when that kind of certainty has overtaken us. We need to have that challenge and to do that through dialogue , I'm sorry, do that. If your debate is really difficult, right? You need to have a different kind of communication process in order to open back up enough to start to recognize that a they're not all alike B, there may be some, you know , decent people. There may be some rationale behind their point of view, right? Because we're not at a place where we can even entertain those thoughts. Yeah.

Matthew Brickman:

Well, and one of the things that, and one of the early podcasts and in my training as a mediator , uh, initially that they taught us was they taught us the four D's that underline all conflict. And that is when people feel dismissed, disenfranchised, disrespectful, disrespected, or disadvantaged , whether in a personal or professional relationship will then conflict will arise. And I think that's what you're saying is like, when you, when you go into it going , you're right, I'm wrong or , sorry, I'm right. Your wrong. Yeah. Introspectively. That's probably the way it is right out of wrong. You're probably right. But I'm not going to say that because I'm not going to look inside myself first. I'm just going to point the finger at you. But when those things, when one of those four DS happen, then you get into, I think then that shifts from a dialogue to a debate.

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Yeah. Yeah. And I think, again, that happens even with , with minor things. If you're challenging me on, you know, my sports team preferences or, you know, oh ,

Matthew Brickman:

That's not a minor people, Peter , you know , Peter, I've never, I , I , I'm not a big sports person, but I always joke with sports people. It's like, oh yeah, my team's going to the super bowl . I'm like, so at what point did you own the team? You own the team. Okay. So you've got stock investigate. Well , no, no, no, no. Okay. Well, have you ever lived in the city? Well , no , no, no. But you know, my dad had a friend that grew up and so that's my team. I'm like, that's not your team, but I always joke. People are like, how is that your day? But yeah, sports, I'll tell ya , people look, look at , look at sports these days. You, you, you mentioned this , um, uh, you know, I've, I've heard, you mentioned, it's just the polarization, even with sports is crazy. Well, it's the Olympics, even

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

It does tap into our tribalism and our tribalistic tendencies. And again, you know, I mean, that can be fine, right? It can be a form of competition. And , but, but the thing about sports is sports requires, you know, a cooperative structure to make them work. You need to have rules that everybody accepts. You need to have referees that can negotiate to dispute disputes. You need to have an acceptance of, you know, what's fair and what's not fair. And when that goes away, as it has in politics today, then that kind of tribalism is toxic and just has no, no safeguards. Right. We've, we've lost a lot of the, the guard rails that we need in order to have a functional democracy. Um, and, and you see that happen to sports sometimes when you have, you know , kind of hooliganism in soccer games where you have groups of people that come on the field and really attack each other violently, it's like, okay, that's, that's not what it's supposed to be here . Right? Yeah. Yeah.

Matthew Brickman:

It's a game. It's a, it's a form of entertainment a game , but yeah. People get caught up and I see that. So what's interesting Peter. So in my work as a , uh , as a family mediator , um, people come into a mediation situation. Um, and usually they're, they're, you know, they're experiencing fear and chaos. They don't even really understand the process. They have no idea of how to negotiate because in their marriage it's been a debate, not a dialogue , right? Everything is, you know, my way or the highway, no, it's my way. And there , and there's this polarization in the relationship. And then they come into mediation with that same debate dialog or debate versus dialogue and where I have to sort of shift them. And , and so what I've told them is I said, look, you know, going back to like your, your rules there's rules in place and whatnot is I tell them , I said, look, if you look at the four levels of relationship, you've got acquaintance intimacy, loss of intimacy in a business like relationship, you know? And I tell them when you're in a, and when you first meet someone, it's like, Hey, how are ya ? There's no rules, there's no accountability, responsibility or consequences in your relationship. Then you move into the next phase of intimacy. Fine . You get married, still no rules, every couple makes their own rules. Well, now you have a loss of intimacy. Okay. That's a dangerous place to stay for an extended period of time because there are still no rules. They come to me in what I do is I transitioned that out of emotion, into business, but with a set of rules, here's your parenting plan. Here's, here's all the intricacies of shared parental responsibility and pick up and drop off in days. And then here's how we're dividing up your stuff. And here's the timelines and here's how you're going to sell the home. And once they get that, a lot of the noise subsides having those rules in place is important and Sydney was a product of divorce. Um, you know, she was a child of divorce , um, and, and Sydney, I'm sure you've experienced having

Sydney Mitchell:

Absolutely. I, you know, I think I was, I , you know, I was going to say earlier, I think the , um, the current political climate has really, you know, this is what everyone's looking at when it comes to conflict resolution. This is the conflict resolution that's being seen on TVs. You know, that's being taught on the news and social media and, and, you know, Matthew, as you talk about your experience with family mediation, I think that , um, you know, I, I guess I see families looking to politics and the media, you know, as far as how they're going to resolve conflict. And so I think that's the example that people have received. And for a lot of people, maybe the only example that they've received. And so I'm just so glad that we're having this conversation, because I think there are so many individuals and families , um, who, who just follow suit, because that's what they've seen. That's what they've done , what they've known. Um, but really there's a completely other way to go about this.

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Yeah. Yeah. I , I agree with both of you. I mean, I think what is modeled for us by our leaders is important, right? What we see as acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and that's changed pretty radically over the last 10 years, you know, those, those sorts of civil norms, politics and things. I mean, they've changed actually over the last 40 years, but particularly acutely the last several years. And, you know , um, you're , you were talking about rules and rule violations in , in relationships. I think part of what happens when couples get under stressed and then either separate or get divorced is that there has been a violation, like a basic violation of trust. You're cheated on me, spend money. You didn't tell me, you know, something has happened or you gave up and I'm relationship . So they somebody's broken the rules, or at least that's the experience. Right. And that's why that's such a dangerous time is because what was normative and acceptable is now open to question. And so what you do, I think in , in re-introducing plans and contracts and understanding is offer a new set of rules that they can agree to disagree and maybe dislike each other, but to proceed it's it's reintroducing what was there, but then was ultimately violated.

Sydney Mitchell:

Well, and there's even an openness required to even start that conversation too . Okay.

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Yeah. You got to , well, certainly you have to buy into the whole mediation thing. I mean, so I was trained as a community mediator and what I found pretty consistently as , as you were saying, you know , uh , no one really understands what mediation is. Most people think it's meditation. So when, you know , when they look at it, they just are confused. And so you have to do, you know, education typically when you start your mediation and say, this is what, this is, this isn't a court of law. We're not, you know, I'm not a judge, but, but nevertheless, what do people do they say, okay, but I have, you know, documents here that have been signed by witnesses that says, this woman is insane. You know, it's like, okay, I understand that, but this isn't about, you know, right or wrong. This is about moving forward, understanding what happened. Okay. But I have the evidence here . It's like , it is a paradigm change for people that we don't see in politics. We don't see in courtrooms. We don't, you know, it's, it's a very uncommon process that we have to, we have to model, I guess, as mediators. And we have to look to our leaders sometimes, but you know, again, under the current circumstances, certainly political leaders rarely go there. You know, they're really in a politics is war kind of, it's not even debate. It's worse than debate is more extreme than debate.

Matthew Brickman:

Well, and I think, and , and part of the problem , um, because I was approached many years ago and it was interesting. So, you know, with the whole social media reality, I'm going to put air quotes, reality TV, the media ads just as, as, as it is, what's interesting is many years ago I was approached , um , to do a, I was approached by an attorney who had been approached and wanted to do a reality TV show on mediation, ran into way too many legal roadblocks, because mediation is private and confidential. And I think that's part of the part of the problem. And one of the reasons why Sidney and I have started this podcast was to educate the general public on mediation. What D what is it? What is it? And it's funny, Peter, because people come to mediation all the time, going, all right , Matthew in media, and on your podcast, you said on your podcast, and I'm like, you're listening. They're like, yeah. You know, I've had attorneys that have said, Hey, you know, to, you know, to their clients, go listen to the podcast to get prepped for mediation. Um, and so, you know, I'm all about like, let's educate so that we can then calm down the , you know, all of the noise, all of the emotions, everything that drives the debate versus the dialogue. Um, but what's happened is, is it is private and confidential. I think that even in Congress, even in the politics, there's a lot of things that are positive that probably go on, unfortunately behind closed doors. And we were just unaware to where we're uninformed. We don't know about it. And so then when it's like, okay, well, you've got to go resolve conflict. People are looking at like the real world, they're looking at the Kardashians. So it's like, that is not how you resolve conflict. Um, that is ,

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

I was going to say, you're , you know, in the , in Congress right now, there's a group called the select committee for the modernization of Congress, which was founded about a year and a half ago. And their , their mandate has been extended a couple of years because they've been very effective and their job is to look at Congress and do whatever they can to depolarize it, they understand that they're dysfunctional and that there's all kinds of structures that make them do that. And one of the things that , so it's an interesting group. It's a bipartisan group. It's, co-chaired by a Republican, whose name is William Timmons from South Carolina and a Democrat named Derek Kilmer from Washington. Um, and they , they really work in a bipartisan consensual way. They've shared the budget, all of that stuff. And they've come up with something like a hundred recommendations for the things that Congress can do. And one of them is give them a space away from cameras because of the prevalence of cameras, everywhere, you know, cell phone cameras or mediate , uh, reporters . Um, there's no space that they can really talk to each other reason, listen, understand, learn, and discover everything is recorded. So they they're really trying to encourage the reinstitution of spaces where they can be alone and have conversations about, okay, what are we going to do about this? Right. Because otherwise it's all playing to the camera. Yeah.

Matthew Brickman:

Wrong .

Sydney Mitchell:

You know , I think it's one thing. They have space to be incorrect. And to work those things out. Sorry ,

Matthew Brickman:

I was going to say Sydney , go ahead. So, so Peter, I remember, so I'm, I'm 46. Um, I remember growing up in the seventies, the eighties or whatnot, and it seemed to be, you know, as, as, as a kid growing up, looking at politics or whatnot, it seemed to be that there was more, it was , it was almost like they would get up on the, on, on the, the floor of the house or the Senate, and they would debate, they were living there. They were still going to dinner together. They were vacation and you're going, yeah, you guys have different ideas, but you guys are still on the same team. It's still Congress. Right. But that seems to have shifted , um, is , is, I mean, at least from my perspective, that seems to have shifted where I highly doubt that the Republicans and the Democrats find they'll they'll debate all day long, but I highly doubt that, like, you know, these, these guys are going to dinner after a long debate on the house where it's like, they're just going to dinner or that they're going to go, and they're going to go golfing for the weekend or whatnot. And your research and your knowledge and stuff has that. I mean, am I, am I, am I off base? Or is something changed?

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

You're right. Something has something fundamental change structurally in Congress. Um, again, the , the divisions started to get more and more acute in the late 1970s, but it was really in the early nineties when there were dramatic changes in the structure of life in Congress. And that was new Gingrich came in as , uh , um, baker the house and made the decision to shorten the work week in Congress from five days to three. So they used to move, you know , why they're never there? Well, they used to move there with their families. And what David said to his caucus was don't move here, stay in your home states, keep your families there. You can raise more money that way and just come here for three days. But more importantly, don't fraternize with the other side, don't hang out with them. Don't dine with them. Don't live with them , you know? And so this wasn't intentional, weaponization of politics is war. And , you know, and again, it wasn't attempt to basically take over politics, get enough money and enough power and enough kind of anti-democratic orientation to know democratic capital D in order to hold onto power. But what he did was remove something that we've learned for decades of research that are critical for mitigating negative conflict, which are cross cutting structures. When you have, you know, families that grow up together and their kids go to school together and play little league, or they worshiped together, you know, bowl together, whatever, when , when you have that, then when you and I go to work and differ ideologically, or, you know , have different policy or preferences, we can disagree. We can disagree vehemently, but I don't see you as evil because I know your kids and I know your spouse, and I know you're this and that, you know, we've spent time together. That doesn't happen nearly as much anymore, largely because of the structural change that happened. Um , in 1994, this was a big deal that they did. And, you know, and I've , I've spoken to this select committee and recommended that they take a hard look at that. Like maybe it's time to move back to Washington, maybe it's time to extend the work week, you know? Um, so hopefully that will happen. What they're the select committee is trying to do is figure out what are the structures that keep them in these insulated isolated tribes. Like here's one example. The first thing that happens when a freshmen group of Congress, people come to Congress.

Matthew Brickman:

So this was like last year, I guess, I guess it wasn't last year when they, when they just got a new group

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Or something , they just got a new group. They put, they put the Democrats on one bus and the Republicans on the other bus and they move in different directions and that's where they start. And so their first recommendation was don't do that, but on the same bus, well, just bring them together for a couple of days, meet each other and talk and have dinner and figure things out. Then you can move into political camps and do your strategy, but like you, if you begin, you know, what we know from the study of complex systems is this , the first things that happen matter. And if you start the new group in these warring camps, that's what you're going to get, right? So there are things that they can do to, to mitigate things and to bring some kind of social fabric back to the context of their lives. And then it's also true, you know, if your families are hanging out together and growing up together, even if I don't like you in our kids, know each other, and it buffers the tension and the passions and the insanity, we're missing a lot of that in DC right now, but in the rest of the country as well. If you look at patterns of movement, there are shifts, not just rural, urban Ren blue shifts, but even within cities, you see these pockets of neighborhoods that are strong red, strong blue, where I don't have to go into your neighborhood anymore. And I won't. Right. So we're physically sorting across the nation, as well as in DC. That's a harbinger of political violence.

Sydney Mitchell:

Yeah. And COVID certainly, hasn't helped either with all the physical distancing and separation people being almost quarantined in their homes for extended period of times. I mean, that's definitely been, I would say, you know, you know, I would assume a pretty strong influence to , to pushing that, that forward

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

You'll isolate. Absolutely. I mean, we were doing this before COVID, but you're absolutely right. It's cemented these bubbles that we live in. And then all we have is the media and the internet, which just reinforces the divisions.

Matthew Brickman:

So, so, so one of the things that I really, it was in the beginning of your book that I really liked was the , uh , when you would talk about the old tale between the Cherokee elder ,

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Um , and the Wolf, right. Um,

Matthew Brickman:

Something about like , um, well , do you remember the analogy? It was not about blame . One Wolf represents like fear and anger and the other one ,

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

The story is you have a grandfather and a grandson, and the grandfather says to the, his grandson, you know, there is a war going on inside of you. And it's a war between two wolves. And one Wolf is about greed and power and envy and challenge, and is vicious and fighting. And the other Wolf is about decency and friendship and love and care and empathy. Um, and, and he said, you know, the, the fight that's going on between these two wills in you is going on within everybody. And the grandson reflects for a moment and says, well, well, which Wolf will win? And the grandfather said, it's the one that you feed. And I , I make that point because certainly under the current conditions in the law over the last several years of vitriol and hate, I have felt my anger and vicious, you know , need to fight that other side really thrive, but I feel empathy and compassion. And so that stuff is on the ropes, right. It's really weakened. And so I wrote this book to , to try to revive that side of us are , you know , our , what Lincoln called our better angels to sort of say, you know, we have these two tendencies when we're talking about them, right. And one is to take them out at all costs. the consequences. The other is to try to understand as much as we can try to bring the temperature down, finding constructive ways to disagree doesn't mean that we need to get up, give up a fight against white supremacy or, you know , NR kiss or others that want to sort of derail what we have here. You still need that fight, but if that's all we have, then there are no guard rails. So we need to bring back a sense of decency, which is why I wrote this part.

Matthew Brickman:

So, so I want to ask you a question then , um, about, about the book and , uh , it's one of the things that , um, as I was reading it , um, I started noticing about myself. Um, and so, and that that'll, that'll shift us then into, I've got some questions about social media. Um, so writing this, you had just said, you know, it was one of these things where you found that you were, you know, getting angry and whatnot. So was this sort of therapeutic introspective, like sort of a great outlet to be like, okay, wait a second. I'm Dr. Peter Coleman . I work on peace. Why am I so angry? I mean, it was, it was it one of those types of, okay, here's an outlet for me to sort of channel like, and it's sort of like hit the reset button on, this is who I am. This is what I believe. This is how we can move forward. Did that sorta?

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in that way, this book was challenging to write because, you know , I too am susceptible to these and , and, you know, and I get triggered if I'm on the elevator with a neighbor and I know their political orientation and they say something about, you know, my stupid group, it triggers in me, that's the fight. And so I, you know, I feel that too often , um, the reason I wrote the book is because I was afraid that there was many, there were many good faith attempts to bring red and blue Americans together in conversation that weren't informed by science. They weren't informed by research. They were just sort of saying, Hey, you know, go on this website and fill out this questionnaire and we'll match you with somebody and go have a cup of coffee together and work it out. But if you push them and said, well, how do those things go? A lot of them backfire. In fact, pew , the pew research found that something like 60, 65% of Republicans or Democrats, when they talked to members of the other side, they leave feeling more frustrated, more alienated angrier. So those contact in and of itself doesn't work under these kinds of passionate conditions. So I was concerned that there were good faith attempts that were making things worse, and that people really needed to understand stand the science behind what does work under these conditions and what can make matters worse. But you're absolutely right in the writing of it. I have to challenge myself all the time and I've had to try to live through some of the prescriptions I give. Like, so one of the chapters I read about is I talk about complicating your life and complicating your life means not just being, talking to people that you're comfortable with and have the same values and attitudes is as you're watching news that you find comforting, it means reaching out and being uncomfortable. So one of the things I would do when an event would take place, Donald Trump would say, or do something, I would have different news sources that I would go back and forth. One to get some sense of a, what are different parts of America talking about, but then B are there reasonable people? Um, what I would say is the other side of the divide that are trying to make sense of these things, right? Are they all insane or not? And like one of my learnings and discoveries from that was if you watch Fox news through the day, there are very different flavors

Matthew Brickman:

Of Fox the night , well

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

There's morning , right? Which tended to be very pro-Trump. There was the evening, which is a lot of entertainment visitation of news. And then you have more reporting that happens during the day. Well, that wasn't my attitude. My attitude had said this place is insane. Right ? So it wasn't until I forced myself to be exposed to the fact that there are people during the day that are trying to tell the news, right. And trying to talk about these challenges and issues that our country faces. Um, and, and if, if you don't push yourself to go and find those, we don't do it intentionally. We were much more comfortable in listening to and hanging out with. And, and you know what I say, thinking with, because we always think with other people, we're much more comfortable thinking with people that think like we do, because it feels good. Right.

Matthew Brickman:

So do you think that , um, do you think that, I mean, I, I think it's a rhetorical question. Do you think that's intentional by the news because they're , they're going to put the real recording when most people are at work. None of the morning when you're getting ready and not at night when you're home, but they're going to put the reels just , just like you said. And it's like, because they know that, okay, the people that, you know , the masses are not getting the real journalism during the day, how do you feel about the entire climate? Can we get out of this? Because you know, you know, the book itself is, you know, the way out, you know, do you re , do you think we can get out of this? Um, you know, I mean, I, I, as, as a mediator, as a conflict resolution specialist, I tend to be on the optimistic side going there is a way, but I think people have to choose it.

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Yeah, I think you're right. I mean, again, I think that there are some optimistic conditions today that would suggest that this would be, this is a good time to pivot. Um, I will say, you know, my daughter who is about Sidney's age, read my book this last week, and we had this conversation about it, which was great fun. And what she said is, you know, what I realized early on in reading this book is that there aren't simple solutions. And she said, that was frustrating to me. I wanted it just to be, just do this and we'll be fine, microwave society. Yeah. And she said, you know, so what you have to kind of grapple with is, you know, this is going to be challenging and there's going to be hard work. It can be done, but we have to accept the fact that there aren't simple solutions that we need to make adjustments in our lives and our relationships and a variety of other things. So I think that's the challenge. The good news is that, you know, 86% of our country is fed up and exhausted and tired of this nonsense and really wants to do something else. So there's enough what we call what we call a mutually hurting stalemate, there's enough frustration, the status quo. Um, and we've been destabilized by COVID and by a variety of other factors. And so we're in this ripe situation where we could pivot. The reason I wrote this book is because what we do now is really important. And so this is trying to say, here are five things that science tells us can help you in your life and your relationships and in your community start to make those pivots. Um, you know, and so that's, you know, I guess my, my somewhat , um, um, mercenary response to your question is the more people read this book, the more they'll get, have a sense of what to do under these conditions, which can move us there. But I also just, I do want to say one other optimistic thing. There are, by some, some estimates are seven to 10,000 bridge building organizations in this country. There's a group called bridging divides initiative out of Princeton. They map where these groups are in your community, go to their website, click on them, and you'll see them. And these are bridge-building organizations that are informed by what we know from science works and doesn't work. And they're helping bring red and blue Americans together in different sectors and just in communities for conversations and sometimes for real action. Um, and that's really promising. Those are, that's what I call the community immune system. We have our own immune system that is fighting against all of these pressures, pulling us apart. We need to encourage support and engage with that as much as possible. That's where the hope is

Matthew Brickman:

Dr. Coleman. I really, really appreciate you coming on and just sharing your insight , um, the way out, how to overcome toxic polarization. It's really good read. And I think, I think it's a good launch pad for people to start taking an introspective look, I think is where change starts as in each and every one of us. And then we can start to, you know, find the good in the world and go out and make a change. So thank you so much for coming on. I really, really appreciate it.

Dr. Peter T. Coleman:

Thank you both. It was a pleasure to meet you and to talk to you and hopefully we'll do it again. All right.

Matthew Brickman:

Occasionally Sydney and I will be releasing Q & A bonus episodes where we will answer questions and give you a personal shout out

Sydney Mitchell:

If you have a comment or question regarding anything that we discuss, email us at info@ichatmediation.com that's info@ichatmediation.com and stay tuned to hear your shout out and have your question answered here on the show. For more information about my services or to schedule your mediation with me, either in person or using my iChatMediation Virtual Platform built by Cisco Communications. Visit me online at www.iMediateInc.com. Call me at 561-262-9121, Toll-Free at 877-822-1479 or email me at MBrickman@iChatMediation.com.