The greatest advancements in human progress—social, scientific, or otherwise—have resulted from an exchange of ideas, not borne of a single thought. Unfortunately, the polarization that grips our country today threatens continued progress. We’ve splintered into factions that focus more on what divides us than unites us. Worse is that more people want to silence opposing viewpoints rather than listen to and learn from different perspectives. We’re working to end this vicious cycle. Uniting people from all walks of life who have the courage to not let their differences prevent them from collaborating on areas of shared concerns. It’s the key to unlocking solutions to the biggest challenges facing our country today.
Collaboration—even, and especially, with those who have different ideas—is the key to unlocking solutions to our country’s biggest problems.
“The chief source of innovation in human society . . . is not the efforts of lonely geniuses thinking in solitude, but simply the exchange of ideas.” – Matt Ridley
Gravity. Electricity. The Polio vaccine. Women’s suffrage. The abolition of slavery. Each of these milestones in human progress was the result of people who had different perspectives, backgrounds, and skillsets collaborating with and challenging their contemporaries while building upon the discoveries and ideas of generations before.
Despite the headlines, however, this country is full of good people who do respect the dignity and opinions of those with whom they disagree and who are willing to unite in common cause. A recent study found that 77 percent of Americans believe we can unite despite our disagreements.
We’re working to foster such unity. It’s the key to ensure the progress our country has made accelerates going forward, helping more and more people live fulfilling lives.
“The most effective way to counter the potential negative effects of hate speech . . . is not through censorship, but rather through more speech.” – Nadine Strossen, Former President of the ACLU
Our country is no stranger to struggle: Civil rights and the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Watergate in the 70s. The fight for LGBTQ rights in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. The list goes on.
Yet each time, we persevered. And we became a stronger and more just society. The civil liberties that served as the foundation of our country make it possible for courageous individuals to take courageous stands—for example, the First Amendment freedoms of speech and the press, and the right to worship and peaceably assemble, among others.
Despite these achievements, today many see restricting civil liberties as a solution to division. A recent poll found that nearly one-in-three Americans say the government should shut down media outlets they believe are biased or inaccurate. A similar proportion of universities maintain speech codes that censor students’ ideas. Politicians try to insulate themselves from critique by discouraging involvement with certain charitable and civic organizations.
Although this is a natural instinct, it’s counterproductive. It’s especially harmful for groups of people who have historically been disenfranchised. Without free speech and the right to peaceably assemble, there might never have been national movements for civil rights and equality for the LGBTQ community. Without free press, corrupt politicians and cultural figures would have escaped accountability for abuses of power and other harms they inflicted.
Collaborating with others—especially those with whom we disagree on other issues—has led to breakthroughs that have helped millions of people improve their lives. Let’s work together to bridge our country’s divides and accelerate that pace of progress.