Growing up people are often taught to avoid the topics of religion and politics at the dinner table. Especially given today’s culture, a single statement can trigger a heated argument or divide friends and families. That is why Katie Couric has developed her latest project along with National Geographic. Couric’s America Inside Out with Katie Couric, will follow her as she travels the country to talk with the people bearing witness to the most complicated and consequential questions in American culture today. The weekly series premieres Wednesday, April 11, 2018, and will air globally on National Geographic.
Inspired by her own journey making National Geographic’s critically acclaimed documentary Gender Revolution (2017), Couric travels to dozens of cities across North America — from Freemont, Nebraska, to Montgomery, Alabama, to talk with hundreds of people to get an inside look at pressing social issues, including gender inequality, Muslims in America, political correctness, white working-class anxiety, the battle over Confederate monuments and statues and how technology is affecting our humanity.
Couric enlists cultural icons, experts and everyday people to help her look past the noise, politics and individual discomfort to understand complicated truths including Viola Davis, Elisabeth Moss, Julianne Moore, Aasif Mandvi, Halima Aden and Steve Aoki. Examples include Farris Barakat, whose brother Deah, a dental student, was murdered in what many believe was an anti-Muslim hate crime; residents of Erie, Pennsylvania, who have faced a steady decline in jobs and are having to reimagine their futures; and an Oregon family whose 20-year-old son is headed to a three-month technology rehab after falling into gaming addiction.
Couric shares why she wants to talk about some of the most polarizing subjects that divide our country.
“As a nation, we are in the midst of unsettling, often head-spinning change — how we live, how we communicate, how we see the past, the future and each other. I wanted to explore some of the thorniest, most divisive issues facing the country, and give people the tools to have a conversation, not just an opinion. In the instantaneous, 24/7 news cycle, people seem to want affirmation, not information. That makes it all the more important to step out of our comfort zones and be open to different perspectives. I want to revive the lost art of listening, because when we understand each other, it can help us reclaim our empathy and humanity, and forge a path forward.”
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20
Have a conversation. Whether it is a friend, family member or classmate, we all have people in our lives that we don’t agree with. Rather than try to solve the issue, agree to have a conversation with the person. Don’t argue. Instead, try to understand how they came to believe and why they believe that thought or have that conviction. If it becomes heated or you start to argue, take a break. Be willing to say, “Let’s revisit this topic another time when we have both cooled off.” If someone says something that offends or hurts you, let them know that. Likewise, if you have said something that has hurt someone even if it was in the heat of the moment, ask for forgiveness. If the person is not willing to have a conversation, respect their decision. Just because a topic might be a “hot topic,” doesn’t mean we should avoid it all together. Often, if we create parameters for discussion, we can learn a lot from others and it can often be beneficial to relationships.
Pray for our country. There are many issues that divide our country. Pray for reconciliation. First, that people would be reconciled to God and second, that they would be reconciled to one another. Ask God to help people to be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen and forgive one another. Pray for unity amongst the body of Christ, that we would no longer be divided by race, denomination, socio-economics, or other factors that are used to divide people. Ask God to show you if you need to have a conversation with someone in order to reconcile a situation or past grievance.
Get a different perspective. Part of the reason that we often disagree is from lack of understanding. Take time this month to try to understand a perspective that is different than your own. It could be on an issue that you are passionate about or something that you want to learn more about. It may be difficult, but ask God to give you strength and understanding. If you need ideas, ask a friend, pastor or small group leader. It might even be something you do with a group of friends, small group or your family and then discuss what you learned afterwards.