This election has left the country divided. Economic inequalities and injustices have proven to be fertile ground for those willing to exploit a widespread discontent for personal gain.

To move forward, we need meaningful dialogue and debate about what just happened. We need a realistic, shared understanding of the issues we face, both nationally and in Maine.

A foundation for cooperation and trust is needed. What do we agree on? What kind of safeguards can address the concerns of those who hesitate to join together in a common effort? In the business world, when cooperation is critical to the success of a project, spelling out terms of agreement and discussing expectations is basic. We can do that.

We have much common ground to build on. But we know divisions don’t disappear if the underlying causes of those divisions persist.

We know that: Wages have stagnated for too long, health care costs are too high, too many young people have to take on excessive debt to get a college education, and drug addiction is destroying the lives of too many. Let’s lay the groundwork for addressing these very real issues by coming together and listening to one another.

The First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Portland, 425 Congress St., is dedicated to the strong and vibrant community of this city. As part of our role in promoting the healing of divides, our Faith in Action Committee has organized a post-election public forum at 6 p.m. Monday to look at what has happened and why in this election cycle.

A 5:30 p.m. reception will precede the forum discussion, which will include Janet Mills, Maine’s attorney general; Lance Dutson, Republican strategist; Severin Beliveau, former Maine Democratic Party chair; and Maine Sunday Telegram columnist Alan Caron.

Louise Berlin

president, Governing Board, First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church