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The Deep Divide: How Can America Heal?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - If there's anything Americans on both sides can agree on, it's that political division in the country is undeniably deep at the moment.

The polarization of parties has built up and strengthened over years.

"It's divided friends, families, and made people be really ugly with each other," said Janna, a Sacramento resident.

The ugliness, as she refers to it, comes after what psychologists say comes from many reasons – including a lack of listening to one another.

"We want to hear what we want to believe," said Dr. Peter Yellowlees, a psychiatrist with UC Davis. "Therefore, what sustains ourselves."

But how do communities heal? It's a question on many minds after violence in Washington, with people on both sides condemning the attack.

"We have a human need for distinctiveness,"  said Kimberly Elsbach, a professor of management at UC Davis.

She said many people choose to identify with smaller like-minded groups, and she said change comes from recognizing commonalities among everyone.

Elsbach said to move forward comes down to actions, not just words.

"I think having conversations, and including those people in policy groups - reaching across the aisle," Elsbach said. "That has to be done."

She said that means looking at leaders across the area. Political, civic, even religious leaders like Pastor Rick Cole at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento.

"The challenge right now is that leaders have to really lead well," Pastor Cole said.

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He hopes humanity can heal.

"The more we do something for others, the less it's about my stand and what I think," Cole said.

Bishop Jaime Soto with the diocese released this statement following the violent riot at the nation's Capitol.

"The reckless upheaval at the Nation's Capitol is a disturbing development in a still restless America. With renewed fervor let us pray for our country and its leaders during this time of transition. Accompany these prayers with our own resolve to build a culture of life with reverence and respect for one another," Bishop Jaime Soto said.

At the Diocese of Sacramento, Father Michael Vaughan believes there's no time to waste, and urges people to work together.

"We can't pretend things don't exist," Father Vaughan said. "We can't sweep things under the rug anymore."

Fr. Vaughan said that can mean discussing difficult topics. This is a time, he said, everyone can rise to the occasion.

"In critical moments - that's where leaders are made," Fr. Vaughan said.

Among the tough topics of conversation, psychologists like Dr. Yellowlees suggest straying away from social media, fact-checking sources and discussing difficult issues like racism, individual and community rights and the political process.

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