I think our world is getting very tribal and closed off.
I am very concerned about the public schools. Did you know that school board members are not allowed to just drop in at the schools to visit, and have very few authorized visits? There are no unscripted visits with teachers. Even the superintendent's staff visits are announced in advance. Of course, parents can't just drop in and casually walk down the halls, check out the library (security issues, which I know are real). Closed systems taking care of our children scare me.
I have now attended three congressional hearings. One on gun control and two on bills to change Amendment 1. I was really appalled at the behavior of many of the representatives, berating witnesses and badgering them to admit "they didn't understand the amendment" and had been duped by unscrupulous outside forces. I came from a small Vermont town, town meeting country. You couldn't really hide what was going on there and you did have to consider everyone's opinion and be respectful while you were debating an issue. The arrogance of the representatives implied to me that the hearing sessions were just a show and there was very little hearing really going on.
In my opinion, the free press, is one avenue we have to connect with others, air differences respectfully (well sort of respectfully). Newspapers if they can stay free and keep some readership are an important defense of democracy. Letters to the editor and op-ed pieces are essential to the process. However, there does need to be some attention to insure a diversity of letters and opinions.