MANSFIELD — Researchers have a name for the kind of divide America is currently experiencing: the "intractable conflict."
It means a person's encounters with the "other tribe," whether it be political, religious, ethnic, racial or otherwise, become more and more charged. And the more we try to stop the conflict, the worse it gets.
Author and reporter Amanda Ripley created a way to wade through the muck and come out the other side through questions that "complicate the narrative" by challenging stereotypes, diminishing polarization, and digging ourselves out of the intractable conflicts.
Richland Source publisher Jay Allred challenged Ohioans to complicate the narrative during conversations about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The framework was also used during the Shop Talk series with 419 Barbershop, DRM Productions and Mankind Murals.
Host and emcee John Witwer of the Ohio Patriot Action Network, which has more than 8,500 members, wished those on the opposing side understood that the group in attendance on Sunday were "true Americans."
"We support our president whether it was Obama or whoever, we actually support our president," he said.
"We're not some militia, we're actual real patriots that actually do things, we're not out here pounding the pavement for some white supremacy bullshit or any of that racist crap. We're just happy to see the country recognized again with respect."
Witwer said he wanted to understand why the other side was so angry towards Donald Trump.
"If they would let that anger go, and actually look at his policies and what he's done, they might change their mind," he said. "The biggest thing is the anger - why hate so much?"
Speakers on Sunday included former U.S. representative Jim Renacci, president of the Ohio Senate Larry Obhof, Jack Windsor, Ohio representative Mark Romanchuk, and Ohio representative Candice Keller.
Romanchuk, who is currently running for a seat in the Ohio Senate, said the polarization between both political parties that is portrayed on television is not accurate, in his own personal experience. He noted his best friend is even a Democrat.
"We do have our debates and our differences on policy, but it's very civil," he said. "I think there are more gray areas than you think; I think most Richland County people are in that gray area.
"We all have our opinions, and we should have our debates, we are Americans after all. That's a good thing that we have debates and we talk about things rather than solve them at the end of the barrel of a gun, so this is a good thing."
Romanchuk was first inspired to run for office more than a decade ago. He said his views have been shaped by a combination of the environment he was raised in, plus real-life experiences as he grew older.
"Being a business owner, and my upbringing...living overseas...that has shaped who I am today," he said. "So I bring a very different perspective to the legislature. All those things have led me to this particular party."
Mansfielder Ben Brown can see the gray areas, too.
"It's not the man who's in the seat, but it's about the views more than the man who's in the office," Brown said. "I'm a good, hardworking man. I was raised and born to be a hard worker; you want something you work for it, it's not given to you."
Brown said he wished those on the opposing side would understand he supports immigrants coming to the United States, as long as it is done legally.
"(The left has) been bashing that we're are against gays, we're against Blacks, Hispanics, and other cultures, that we're racist," he said. "We have open arms. We want you to come to our country, this is why we were built, because we all were immigrants coming over here to make a better life. But come in legally.
"I'd like to see policies that make it easier, and we'll get there, but we have to keep the riff-raff out. We have open arms, but we want to do it the right way."
Brown said he simply wants to create a better world for his four children, no matter who holds the office of president.
"We have to work on stuff," Brown said. "Trump ain't gonna fix America 100 percent, even with four more years. But if everyone can get on the same page, we'd make this country better and we all would be great.
"We have to get on the page of, this is America, let's make it great."