I lost a couple of good friends during the pandemic. And I'm sure I'm not alone. I didn't lose them because they got sick. I lost them because they chose to cut themselves off from everyone who disagreed with their perspective. They chose to polarize the issue.
Polarization is the word of the decade for me, an issue clients ask me to help with, a lot. It's a plague of a different sort that has infected our families, communities, organizations and governments. In my work, it shows up as more than a disagreement or difference of opinion. It's defined by ultimatums. A refusal to even attempt to find common ground, solutions to shared problems. (Here's a great article from Berkeley that explores the issue more deeply).
This problem is not limited to the pandemic. We're seeing polarization on issues from climate change to diversity to education. And there's no easy solution.
That's why I was so thrilled to come across the work of the Alberta Narratives Project, led by the Pembina Institute, working with the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and Climate Outreach (from Wales). Managed by Laura Hughes, the project set out to try to find a way to bridge the divide in the conversation about climate change in Alberta – the most polarized province in Canada.