The Kryptonite of Common Ground

Three organizations symbolizing hundreds of courageous efforts underway to establish places of common ground in the midst of rising political sectarianism.

Shaharit: Creating Common Cause in Israel & Beyond

Let’s begin in Israel, one of the world’s flashpoints for sectarian violence — violence that made its way back to the city streets of the United States in 2021. Eilon Schwartz recently wrote about what we can glimpse if we look beneath the headlines:

  1. Belonging is primary to most of our identities: “When a conflict with our group’s identity is ignited, we return to that first and most basic allegiance… (and claiming not to have an allegiance to a tribe is one of the central characteristics of the liberal tribe).”
  2. Feeling acknowledged and accepted is essential: “It takes courage to truly open oneself to the world as seen through other people’s eyes, but everyone has the power to do this.”
  3. First names matter: “Relationships need not be conditional on ideological commitments…. Unlikely alliances are built on human relationships that create a foundation for working together, breaking out of viewing social change as one group pitted against another.”
  4. Loosening ideological restraints leads to new possibilities: “The dissonance between different perspectives gives birth to different options.” (From Deep Diversity, the Common Good, and the Israeli Future.)

Social Change Initiative: Peacebuilding Based in Northern Ireland

Just as Israel serves as a case study for the impact of sectarian violence, Northern Ireland provides an example of a once deeply divided society that has found its way back together. Social Change Initiative (SCI) works globally to share peacebuilding resources drawn from their years of struggle and success.

Center for Inclusion and Belonging

Here in the U.S., the American Immigration Council recognized that this tangled knot couldn’t be unbound by policy alone. The Center for Inclusion and Belonging is a cultural project “committed to building a cohesive America where all people are welcomed and included.”

Finding Common Ground

We at Western States Center are deeply grateful to Shaharit, Social Change Initiative, the Center for Inclusion and Belonging, and the scores of similar efforts big and small around the world.



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Western States Center

Western States Center


Based in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States, Western States Center works nationwide to strengthen inclusive democracy.