>> this is "nightline." >> tonight, on the road to civility. an ardent trump supporter -- >> if i was president i'd probably be just like him. >> and a die-hard democrat. >> i was willing to cut every republican out of my life. >> brought together in a radical experiment to appeal to their better angels. >> this is a fish bowl exercise. >> inside the program hoping to bridge the deep divide and depolarized america. plus swimming with sharks. shaquille o'neal getting face-to-face -- >> hello, shark. >> ronda rousey going hand to mouth. with the deadliest "shark week" is back and bigger than ever. this team of "jaws" junkies
teaching you how to survive the shark-infested water. >> keep your body facing toward the animal. >> and the stakes couldn't be higher. >> i can't afford to lose any more limbs. >> but first the "nightline 5." >> hurry in to jcpenney for black friday prices in july. plus take an extra 20% off with coupons and earn jcpenney bonus bucks. spend $50, earn $10. earn today, spend today, jcpenney. style and value for all. imagine a visibly healthier pet in 28 days. purina one, natural ingredients plus vitamins and minerals in powerful combinations for radiant coat, sparkling eyes, and vibrant energy. 28 days, one
on an unlikely road trip. an ardent trump supporters and a die-hard democrat. if you think america seems politically polarized, who better to mend the divide than a marriage counselor? that's who engineered the better angels program which uses couples counseling techniques to help political opposites find common ground. here's my "nightline" coanchor dan harris. >> i had a schedule. >> reporter: you are witnessing the beginning of a road trip. >> this ain't a hybrid? >> undertaken by two of the strangest political bedfellows imaginab imaginable. greg smith, retired police chief and construction worker from rural southwest ohio. devout evangelical, ardent trump supporters. >> i really believe in his values. i really believe that he loves this country. he messes up, but so do i. if i was president, i'd probably be just like him. >> what time is your music lesson tomorrow? >> reporter: kuyar lives a few miles away in suburban dayton,
but he might as well be on another planet. he emfreighted from iran and works as a computer engineer and is an active member of the local democratic party. >> after the election i was devastated. i was ready to cut every republican out of my life. >> reporter: these two men with seemingly irreconcilable differences became friends through a group called better angels, which brings together reds and blues with the goal of quote depolarizing america. >> hillary [ bleep ]! >> donald trump [ bleep ]! >> [ bleep ]! >> reporter: political polarization, or tribalism, has reached a fever pitch in america. 's not jole tween red and bluee disagreement. to the nmahat topicicky now, you're going to get just horrible tribal conflict over it
that prevents anything productive from happening. >> reporter: david blankenhorn is the founder and president of better angels. >> even before the 2016 election, it seemed clear that this was really cancer. >> reporter: the group's appeal to national unity rang true for greg and kuhyar when they met at their first better angels gathering. >> when you get past the stereotype part of everything, you've got it beat. >> to me it was nice to also see his other side of compassion and the fact that he wants to listen to me and learn about my background. >> reporter: they ended up visiting one another's places of worship and the friendship just grew from there. and on this day they are traveling together from ohio to virginia to attend the first-ever better angels national convention. >> both sides think they're being attacked by the other side. you say you care about the goings-on, you hate the agents,
but what are you going to do about it? >> reporter: in the car weighty issues. they agree to disagree on abortion. they find common ground on guns. >> the whole point about training, the whole point about accountability -- >> yes. >> -- for people that own firearms. >> yes. >> that is a no-brainer. >> reporter: they arrive in harrisonburg, virginia, where they meet up with other political odd couples from across the country. >> i want to hear people who aren't like me, i wanted to hear their stories and understand why they vote the way they do. >> i actually have felt polarization a lot within my family. i guess that's kind of where it started. >> because the polarization we are finding ourselves in more and more isolation -- >> reporter: anthony ginger, president of the young democrats at graceland university in iowa, and his roommate, christian serabia, runs the campus republican group. >> you are roommates even though you basically agree on nothing politically? >> correct. >> yes.
we believe our opinions strongly, however, we understand there are perspectives other than ours. >> what practical pieces of advice could you give to anybody watching about how to have constructive relationships with people with whom you disagree deeply? >> evaluate yourself. you have to want to open yourself up to new ideas, new beliefs. not necessarily to want to persuade the other person. >> if any of us are here with the idea that in three hours or seven hours we're going to get these people to change their mind, it's not going to go well. >> reporter: the better angels have a strict format designed to keep things civil. and it was designed by this man, a marriage counselor named bill dougherty. you've had a long history of working with couples. >> yes. >> on the precipice of divorce, in some cases. >> yeah, yeah. >> did this strike you as harder or easier than that? >> harder. these were strangers. and strangers from different tribes. and the tribes have been at war. >> your job is to listen and learn how people in this group
perceive this issue. >> reporter: here's how a better angels meeting works. reds or blues, whichever group is going first -- >> we should be willing to serve other people. >> reporter: in this case the blues -- gather in the center with the reds observing on the outside. >> the idea was to create a process in which there was little chance that people would get reactive to each other and escalate. >> where do you stand on this lgbt rights, religious liberty issue? and why? >> five years ago, my son came out. i was nothing but supportive of him, but still it made me stop and think about things a little bit. >> 2013, i had a nonlegal wedding. we went to a hotel and we were refused service. >> reporter: and the reds go, while the blues listen. >> i see marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. >> for the purpose of having children so that the children have parents that will pass on the values of society --
>> very few of us get a chance to hear a group of like-minded people talk among themselves. they're not arguing with anybody. >> reporter: after the fishbowl, it's direct one-on-one conversations between the two sides. >> just obviously completely unacceptable in every possible way -- >> reporter: again, the end goal here is not to change minds but to reach what the better angels call accurate disagreement, which can lead to mutual understanding. >> the end goal is humanizing one another, despite our political differences. >> humanizing, not getting people to change their moral compass or something like that? >> no, no. >> let me ask just about this exercise that we've just seen. how did it go for the two of you? >> these are deeply held beliefs on both sides and we've got to talk about them, even if it feels hard. >> so hard, but worth doing? >> yes. >> actually, maybe hard but must-do? >> absolutely.
>> reporter: so what are the takeaways for those who struggle to talk politics with trends, family, colleagues? one, it's worth repeating this, don't try to change anybody's mind. >> if you enter into this and they sense your goal is to show them how stupid they are with their perspectives, they're going to put their defenses up. >> reporter: two, make "i" statements rather than "truth" statements. >> so, for example, i am really concerned about climate change and what's going to happen to my grandchildren and great grandchildren's generation. >> reporter: three, don't characterize the other side's opinion, just characterize your own. >> don't say, you guys want to just grow government. that would be a red thing. don't say a blue or a red, you side just wants to let people die on the street. >> reporter: better angels is only 18 months old, with 3,100 members across the country, and they say they are growing and scaleable. >> the thing people tell us is,
i've been waiting for something like this, i've wanted something like this. >> reporter: wait no more. better angels is open for business and looking to get more conversations started before it's too late. for "nightline," this is dan harris in harrisonburg, virginia. up next, the shipwreck is simulated, but the shark attack is real. how you can survive an encounter with these deep sea destroyers. man 1: this is my body of proof. woman 1: proof of less joint pain... woman 2: ...and clearer skin. woman 3: this is my body of proof. man 2: proof that i can fight psoriatic arthritis... woman 4: ...with humira. woman 5: humira targets and blocks a specific source of inflammation that contributes to both joint and skin symptoms. it's proven to help relieve pain, stop further irreversible joint damage, and clear skin in many adults. humira is the #1 prescribed biologic for psoriatic arthritis. avo: humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened;
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humanity's top athletes for the ultimate interspecies face-off for this year's star-studded, explosive, jaw-dropping "shark week." here's abc's zachary kiesch. >> reporter: it's a 30-year celebration. only the biggest stars in athletes can help kick it off. >> shaq's going down, shaq's going down -- >> reporter: from 7 foot tall nba legend shaquille o'neal coming face-to-face -- >> trying to kill me! >> was it that bad? >> shark tried to kill me. >> reporter: to olympic skier lindsey vonn. even ufc hall of famer ronda rousey ditching the cage. >> think you're ready to get into the arena? >> i was born ready! >> reporter: it's this year bigger than ever. playing out at a time when nal consciousness as attacks continue to make headlines coast to coast. >> sharks, the latest scare -- >> shark attacks on two separate
beaches -- >> reporter: last week a 13-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl were bitten on two separate beaches in the new york city area. >> it was like one second it went like that. then it just let go immediately. >> reporter: then this sighting off the coast of orange county. >> right there, next to the boat! >> oh my god. >> reporter: last year there were 88 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide. 53 of those were in the u.s. alone. and while those numbers have remained consistent the last few years, the images when things go wrong are never easy to see. these encounters are no joke. and yet there are some people, like nikola buff and mike donalis, that thrive under the water and do stuff like this regularly. they say don't blame the sharks. >> most of it is human error. it's, you lack of understanding of getting in the water and then an environment we're not comfortable with. >> it's their home. >> reporter: and i found myself
here in the open ocean off the coast of l.a. on the doorstep of their home. and these guys are dishing out tips on how to avoid deadly encounters. >> i get the sense that you guys get a little bit of an adrenaline rush being out there in the water? >> i've never felt more calm and more relaxed than when surrounded by a bunch of sharks, believe it or not. it's one of the more beautiful experiences you can have. >> tiger, tiger, tiger! >> reporter: the duo was part of discovery's "shark week." >> you can avoid almost every bad incident that happens with sharks. >> reporter: both featured on the show "the laws of jaws," unlocking what they call the keys to stifle by reenacting harrowing real-life incidents. one of them, this 2017 shark attack that left a 49-year-old scuba diver dead in costa rica. >> attacked by a tiger shark while on vacation -- >> reporter: they say the mistake she made, she turned her back on the shark.
labeouf tested the theory himself. watch the shark's focus when he turns his back. >> he's pretty latched on to you. turn, turn, turn! >> as soon as i turned around, you could see it veer off at the very end. >> this show proves you should always maintain eye contact. it shows dominant posture. it shows we're another predator in the water and we don't look like prey. >> it's got to be a difficult, maybe a learned skill to be able to face a shark in the eye when you're in these close contacts with them, right? >> yes, most people would want to swim away. that's really not what you want to do with most sharks. because it's going to show the predator versus prey. >> reporter: sometimes it's the shark you don't see that takes the first bite. >> farther around than i should have been on my body board. when he tore in, i can't explain or describe the excruciating pain. >> reporter: shark attacks on body boarders have tripled in
the last few years. the team has another test. can simply smacking the water help prevent an attack? >> acoustics. they can hear better than they can smell. any sound that's of interest. >> reporter: sharks can confuse the sound people make while splashing to that of possible prey. >> i think we learn that it can help or it can get them interested in the sound instead of maybe yourself. or if there's another person making a sound and the shark's on you, the shark might go over toward that sound to investigate the sound. >> reporter: they say depending on the move you make in the water, you can either distract or attract the shark. >> what's the difference between kind of this noise like a dead animal would make, and this more intense splashing or slapping a're talking about? fish that's twitching a certain way, i think sharks might be attracted to that. they can pick up on that energy or pulse or whatever sound it is
that they do make. and they'll come investigate. >> reporter: the guys convinced me to dive in and learn thetal . what i'm going to be doing is demonstrating a paddle boarder, a boogie boarder, a repetitive sound. paddling. >> reporter: those little rhythmic splashes are the sounds that attract sharks. instead, they say to scare the sharks away, a loud slap in the water what is you've got to do. how much force should you be using when you slap down? >> give it all you've got. you want to catch that pocket of air in your hand. coming down, give it everything you have. shock wave. >> reporter: hey, it's often easier said than done. shark experts paul and james glancy know what i'm talking about. >> i know what it's like to be eaten. it sucks. >> reporter: he's a former australian navy diver who lost
an arm and a leg to a bull shark in 2009. in the show "shark wrecked," airing tomorrow on discovery, the divers put themselves in extreme conditions. at one point they're in a recreated shipwreck. then simulating what it would take to survive in shark-infested waters. out in the middle of the sea, the two are trying to stay afloat. and at one point they got company and have to fend off a team of tiger sharks. >> as nighttime came, it started to get a lot more stressful. just in the twilight when the sharks knew it was low light levels, there's no way we can see the sharks coming at us until it was the very last second. we had a netted tent to get into if it became too dangerous. we got into that. >> they started far away, then get closer and closer and closer, up to the point we're literally pushing them away, having to physically push them away with our fins, our hands, anything, just to keep them behind us. >> reporter: despite the close
encounters, both men say it's actually the sharks who have more to fear. >> they are calmer when you're calm with them. there's a real lesson in how to handle and have respect for these animals. >> reporter: labeouf agrees. he says the sense of respect can go a long way. >> i think it's really important to start changing the way the next generation sees sharks. unfortunately, they kill over 100 million a year right now. the populations are going down drastically. >> over 100 million sharks are killed a year? >> rspecific. hopefully we can get that perception changed and people understand sharks are our friends, we need them in the ocean to keep the balance, and without them our oceans won't survive. >> "shark wrecked" airs on thursday on discovery. "shark week" continues through sunday. up next, 1.2 million people watched her give birth last year. now april the giraffe has another surprise. greatness of an suv?
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finally tonight, it's the giraffe. she's back. last year more than 1.2 million people tuned in to the livestream of april the giraffe in the late stages of pregnancy. don't have a cow, but april has another bun in the oven. new york's animal adventure park has announced they will bring back the giraffe cam for april's new pregnancy. thanks for watching "nightline." as always we're online at our "nightline" facebook page. good night, america.