Mother Teresa once said Americans are the poorest of the poor in the world because of our lack of spiritual and moral values. This past April, participants from all over the country joined me to address Mother Teresa’s concern in a strategic visioning process. Together, we imagined Americans finding common ground, reducing the divides in our country.
Our conversations were part of the National Week of Conversation, in partnership with America Talks and the ListenFirst Project. My involvement with these initiatives grew out of my commitment to build a culture that embraces a shared moral and spiritual vision of solidarity, guided by heart-centered leadership. Americans require a broad-based set of tools to connect with others of different backgrounds and beliefs. The need is so great. I appreciated every single participant’s presence and contribution.
We all came heavy-hearted, reeling from the horrors of Ukraine and worn down by the gridlock and acrimony in Congress, but we set our minds and hearts to envision healing what divides us. We were heartened to learn that there is a group of bipartisan representatives in Congress, led by Democratic Rep. Derek Kilmer and Republican Rep. Andy Barr, who introduced HR 6843, the Building Civic Bridges Act, and a Senate companion bill introduced this week by Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, and Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska.
That is why I encourage you to contact your representative in Congress to sign on to the Building Civic Bridges Act, joining Reps. Kilmer and Barr and Senators Coons and Sasse, in a bipartisan effort to build relationships across lines of difference and forge a sense of common civic purpose. Nine Democrats and nine Republicans introduced the House bill in February and three more co-sponsors have joined them. I am pleased to report that on Wednesday, June 29, Senators Coons and Sasse introduced a companion bill in the Senate that’s earning broad support from civic groups across a political spectrum.
The bill would create a non-partisan pilot program within AmeriCorps to support community civic bridgebuilding, bolstering a grassroots movement that has been growing among concerned citizens, including myself, far beyond the headlines. Through grants, training, research and public conversations, this program would promote the ability of local communities to tackle sources of division, while empowering participants and organizations with a foundation on which they can address contentious issues and ultimately, bridge divides.
American Civic Life