HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (WKRC) - The pandemic has amplified our partisan divide here in the United States.
A Northern Kentucky University professor got to the heart of the issue and is offering ways to dial things back.
The pandemic certainly shined a light on a number of bridges that need to be built. This book, Voices from Behind the Mask, highlights our difference and that it's OK to disagree and to have different opinions, but what should change how nasty and disrespectful we are in treating each other.
Dr. Banwari Mittal surveyed hundreds of Americans about the pandemic, lockdowns and how it changed their lives.
"The raw emotion -- you can hear the opinions of flesh and blood and the richness,” said Mittal.
The opinions represent a wide range of beliefs and feelings. Dr. Mittal put them into four categories:
"About 20% of the people have acquired a positive mindset. About 20% of the people were at your throat and then other people are in between and some people are simply sad, which is understandable,” said Mittal.
The divide doesn't concern Dr. Mittal. What does trouble him is how intense the divide is.
"Our opinions being different is one thing, but our public dialogue and civil life and civic life, they are being robbed of civility and let’s not do that,” said Mittal.
But can it be done? Can the country get back to a level of respectful disagreement that was once more common?
"There is a way of doing that,” said Dr. Stuart Bassman.
Bassman believes it can be done using two guiding principles. One he calls the Q-tip approach.
"Quit taking it personally. Reacting in a personal manner -- they’re going to get angry; they’re going to become incensed,” said Bassman.
Bassman says we also must ask ourselves one question:
"Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? Unfortunately, so many people right now are focusing on being right that they lose their sense of happiness,” said Bassman.
The book also offers a 10-point path to help people understand multiple viewpoints and how to keep conversations civil as we continue to navigate the pandemic.