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5 Ways to Use Your Time Alone to Promote Tolerance and Understanding

Coronavirus has just been officially labeled a pandemic, and public officials are begging us to wash our hands and, when possible, to stay home. If you find yourself at home with more free time than you previously anticipated, why not make it your goal to use that time meaningfully? Here are NTC’s 5 suggestions for how you can work towards a more tolerant world and a more tolerant you without leaving your couch.

1. Find small ways to encourage friends and family

Start small with your network. Our daily lives can be so busy that it’s easy to overlook what is going in in the lives of our friends, family, and coworkers. Take a moment and think about the people that would appreciate a supportive or congratulatory note in the mail. Do you have a lonely friend or relative who would love a phone call? Is there a new parent or someone with a health struggle that could use a home-cooked meal? Now is the perfect time to stop putting off the relationships that need a little TLC, even if you don’t spend time together in person.

2. Have a real conversation with someone you disagree with

Be part of the solution to end division in our nation. Think of someone in your life who you respect, but generally disagree with. Set up a phone call or FaceTime date and ask them why they believe what they believe. Make your goal to listen and learn, and avoid arguing. Hopefully, they’ll ask you to share as well. You may not change each other’s minds, but you’ll both likely leave the conversation with greater empathy for those you disagree with.

3. Read a non-fiction book or watch a documentary you wouldn’t normally watch

Similarly, you can seek a book or a documentary from a different perspective than yours and absorb it with an open mind. Look for something thoughtful, not angry or inflammatory. Can you find more common ground with the people who hold that view than you previously thought? Are there facts or arguments that can make you more deeply examine your own beliefs? You might be surprised by what you find.

4. Make a list of the things you admire about people you disagree with and a list of things you would change about your team

As a nation, we have become experts at identifying everything wrong with the people we view as our opponents while making excuses and exceptions for our own team. Take a moment to identify a few things you genuinely admire about people on the other side and then honestly think through your own side’s weaknesses. Thinking in this way can help us disagree more productively and respectfully, and reveal where we ourselves may be part of the problem.

5. Take action with us

You can’t attend a rally or volunteer in a soup kitchen from home, but you can send an email or a tweet urging American institutions to fight intolerance. Check out NTC’s campaigns to see if something you’re passionate about is on the list or find some motivation – or maybe check out something that you’ve never delved into before.

Whatever you decide to do, we hope you stay safe and find a way to make the most of an uncertain time. If you do try one of our suggestions, we would love to hear about it. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!