Words matter. At our meeting on February 2 we reflected on the narrative of a “stolen election” through the stories of Kenya and Iraq, shared by Anna Ruth Merritt and Julie Ethan. Anna Ruth Merritt interned in Kenya in 2007-2008 and witnessed deep societal divisions, an election that was internationally recognized as stolen, and the ensuing fallout. Upon returning to the United States, Anna Ruth began to see disturbingly similar societal divisions. Julie Ethan shared research from her thesis advisor at the Kroc School of Peace Studies, Ami Carpenter, PhD, on neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq that withstood sectarian violence by adopting a non-defensive/inclusive stance after the 2003 invasion by U.S. forces.
Julie Ethan is the author of How Can Half the Country Be So Stupid? A Memoir and Guide to Friendship Between Political Opposites. Julie consults with organizations on bridging the red/blue divide. She provides one-on-one counsel to individuals engaged in relationships harmed by political conflict. Julie was formerly a small business owner and a co-founder of the Eagan, MN alliance of Braver Angels, an organization with a mission to depolarize America. After raising their five children, she and her spouse, Larry, sold their business and moved to San Diego, CA in 2019.
Anna Ruth Merritt cares deeply about fostering resilient and caring communities. She has worked in support of individuals, families, and communities at home and abroad and is currently in the process of launching a small business that will increase material and relational wellbeing in her hometown of Conway, Arkansas, where she lives, loves, and gardens with her dog and fluffle of rabbits.