Some of you may remember a recent column of mine titled "Fighting Political Extremism". In it I talked about GOP Senator Tim Scott and GOP Representative Trey Gowdy. I spotlighted the book that they have co-authored called, "Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country." As I shared with you then, these authors and Congressmen are on a national tour spotlighting the book and hoping to show our country how to heal from its deep divisions.
In that column, I quoted Trey Gowdy to outline the danger of toxic discourse in our political debates, especially in social media. Here's a reminder of what he said. "So we can talk to one another, find the things we have in common, instead of racing to the conflict, (which is commercially successful) and you get a lot of clicks. It's just destroying our country."
He's right. Increasing political polarization has become a danger to the American way of life.
We can't create legislative solutions to serious problems in our nation if we can't get along. This is a message to both Congress and citizens who are using their votes as a way to lash out at one another. We can disagree without hating or insulting one another.
In their book "Unified", Senator Scott and Congressman Gowdy inspire others in the nation to evaluate their thinking. Through frank and respectful dialogue they invite us all to clean the slate, and extend a hand of friendship that can change our racial and political climates.
This is a message that we need in Colorado. We must figure out how to be healthier in our politics before our politics get so toxic that they poison us all.
I felt both shock and delight to find out that Colorado Springs will be hosting a talk featuring Scott and Gowdy this weekend here in Colorado Springs. On Saturday morning, New Life Church will be opening their doors to the community to have a dialogue about racial unity, racial issues and how we can move back toward healthy conversations about both.
I was fortunate to catch New Life Pastor Brady Boyd for a few minutes before he headed into a meeting. Of course I asked him how this entire event came into being.
Pastor Boyd was happy to share that he met Senator Tim Scott when he was speaking in a Charleston church. They met after the service. They found common ground as they talked and became friends.
In their talks, Brady came up with the idea of having a public talk and Senator Scott agreed to come and share. Pastor Boyd has never met Representative Gowdy but is looking forward to sharing a stage with him. The free event has been titled "A Conversation On Unity". Boyd wanted people to know that this is not a political event. No party lines here - just real talk.
Both Scott and Gowdy will be asked questions about how to have healthy and civil dialogue as well as what we as a community (and nation) can do to foster racial unity. Some of the questions will be pretty pointed. Those include:
"Why is the current racial climate so unhealthy?"
"How did we lose the art of courteous debate?"
"When did we get stuck in these echo chambers?"
Why is there so much vitriol in politics about race right now?"
The pastor wants also wants to hear how any politician can live out real faith in the D.C. political culture. I can't wait to hear that! I do not envy the Congressmen being on the end of that set of questions.
Pastor Brady says that he wants all attendees to "Walk away with the hope that we can have dialogue about race that is civil and healthy despite disagreements."
Sounds good to me.
A Conversation On Unity is on Saturday at New Life Church. You can find more information at newlifechurch.org
Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Stovall is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.