The anniversary of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol offers an opportunity for deeply divided Americans to “navigate back to a functioning democracy,” writes TC’s Peter Coleman in an essay for Time magazine.

A specialist in conflict resolution, the Professor of Psychology & Education and Director of the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (MD-CCCR) finds reason for hope in frameworks, such as the non-partisan Bridging Divides Initiative that has identified over 7,000 organizations and stakeholders seeking common ground in communities across the nation.

“When we find ourselves trapped in the riptide dynamics of a deeply polarized community, research suggests it is best to figure out how to work with what is already working in the situation to find a way out,” Coleman writes.

“That is, rather than trying to fix the problem with some new idea or program, first find the bright spots — the people or programs that are already working effectively to mend the divide.”

Coleman calls on moderates on both sides of the “political precipice” to offset the “nefarious actors (who) are working harder than ever to grab power in a way that could very well trigger the downfall of our democracy.”

“The survival of our country,” he concludes, “depends on it.”

[Watch Coleman's recent appearance on PBS NewsHour on the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection. Read insights from Coleman and Basil Smikle (Ph.D. ’19) on the Capitol insurrection in 2021. Read a story on Coleman’s latest book The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization.]