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Bishop Michael Curry offers advice for divided Americans to 'heal this country'

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church believes there's a way a divided America "can disagree without being disagreeable."
/ Source: TODAY

The Most Rev. Michael Curry believes there's a way a fractured country can heal as Americans await the results of a tense presidential election.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church shared his thoughts on TODAY Thursday about how Americans can find common ground in a nation bitterly divided along political and cultural lines.

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"I want to suggest that we can find common ground when we make a decision that I care about you as much as I care about myself, and when we do that, we can disagree without being disagreeable," Curry told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. "We can find common ground, and we can heal this country."

Curry's comments come as the presidential election still hangs in the balance two days after Election Day as battleground states continue to count votes. The down-to-the-wire election has highlighted how America is almost evenly split between competing political parties and worldviews.

"It starts with a decision that we are going to do this together," Curry said.

He brought up the Latin phrase on the Great Seal of the United States that serves as a motto for the country, e pluribus unum, which means "out of many, one." The origins of the motto are believed to have come from writings of the ancient Roman scholar Cicero.

"Cicero in his writings said, and I quote, 'When each person loves the other as much as he loves himself, then one out of many becomes possible,'" Curry said.

"We have to ask ourselves, what am I willing to do to make e pluribus unum real — from many, one? And then decide what can I do each day to make that real? You can't change everything, but you can change one thing. You can do one thing. What am I gonna do today that's gonna bring this nation together, bring us together as a human community?"

The bishop stressed that Americans think of themselves as part of one whole.

"We're all Americans," he said. "(Former member of Congress) Shirley Chisholm said it a long time ago — we all came over here on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now. And that's really true."

Curry cited an example of healing from 2016 following an incident in which a 78-year-old white man named John McGraw punched a younger Black protester named Rakeem Jones in the face at a rally for President Donald Trump.

McGraw pleaded no contest to assault charges and was given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a year on unsupervised probation. At a hearing for his case, he apologized to Jones and the two shook hands and hugged.

"At the sentencing (McGraw) apologized, he apologized to the man he punched," Curry said. "And he said to him, 'We are in a political mess, both of us, and we've got to heal our country.' And the guy who got punched said to him, 'Let's go out to lunch.'"

Curry suggested that simple gesture could help in understanding our differences, although it's a little difficult to do right now in a nation that reported more than 100,000 cases of the coronavirus in one day.

"America, take each other to lunch," Curry said. "Somebody who is different than you are, somebody who's a different political party, different political orientation, different religion, different race, somebody who is different."