A poll conducted in early August commissioned by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal revealed that just 28 percent of Americans believe America is the “single best place to live in the world.” This was coupled with a finding that only 14 percent of poll respondents gave America’s national character a “strong” rating of “eight” or higher on a 1-10 scale. In contrast, 34 percent assigned the country’s character a “weak” rating of “four” or lower.

The most telling results relate to impressions about how divided our country is: a total of 80 percent of respondents believed that America is either mainly divided (59 percent) or totally divided (21 percent). This belief about division crosses all party lines with 86 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 75 percent of Republicans agreeing we’re greatly divided.

The reasons for the division?

Income inequality was given by 23 percent and political party affiliation was cited by 21 percent; racial and ethnic differences (19 percent) and the types of media consumed (18 percent) were other reasons.

Further, when asked “Do you feel confident or not confident that life for our children’s generation will be better than is has been for us,” only 35 percent of respondents answered, “feel confident” whereas a whopping 61 percent said, “do not feel confident.” This compares with 50 percent/45 percent in 1990.

On the more hopeful side, in response to a question about feeling comfortable or uncomfortable with the changes America has undergone relative to it is becoming more diverse and tolerant of different “lifestyles, gender roles, languages, cultures and experiences,” fully 55 percent of respondents reported being “comfortable” while only 24 percent responded with being “uneasy” with those changes. Another 19 percent responded “neither.” Thus, 74 percent of respondents are either good with or don’t care about how progressive society has become. That’s a huge Wow in my book.

My novice social scientist takeaways from this poll?

As I see it, most of us want America to progress on valuing all humans, notwithstanding the current political climate; however, people are concerned that our divisions along income, politics and race risk the progress we’ve made. People appear particularly concerned about how our divisions will impact our children’s futures. This suggests that we’ve entered a window where what we do in the next couple of years (e.g. how we address our divisions) will make a huge difference on whether America survives as the country we had hoped for thirty years ago.

We each personally have the power to lesson divisions. My Gray Area Thinking™ training is focused on this. Most of all, we need to be brave and face our collective fear about being uncomfortable with “other”—whatever that “other” may be. (A Trump supporter is “other” to a Bernie supporter.) Becoming familiar with (e.g. talking to) those who are “other” is the pathway to healing.