It’s been a tough few weeks in the U.S. for relationship building. I’ve been stunned into silence at much of the hateful rhetoric I hear about in communities across the nation. Though it’s often said, “it’s a small world,” in many ways, people are worlds apart. We hail from different backgrounds, experiences, cultures, perspectives. Sometimes our stance on any given topic is so firm, we cannot see, let alone acknowledge, that there might be another way.
In those moments, we might express our views in darkened rooms with other, like-minded people, assuming all others (well, all others who “matter”) share our worldview and agree with us completely. Another approach is to take to social media, silently shouting our one-sided perspective into the Twitter-sphere or on Facebook and effectively shutting out others’ commentary. In yet other cases, we may march in the streets, brandishing banners and signs and a megaphone to ensure those outside our purview get the message. In those cases, in addition to wishing to be heard, we may seek to change minds, bring others to our side or, at least, be tolerated. Unfortunately, as one of my wisest, bravest friends recently pointed out, all tolerance does is breed more hate.
It turns out, if we merely tolerate one another, we do nothing to fill the gaps or build bridges to one another. In fact, the chasm between us grows wider and, in many cases, seem to lead to a point of no return. Violence ensues. Hatred prevails. It’s unseemly. It’s unacceptable. It’s so sad.
Instead of tolerance, why not seek awareness, understanding, appreciation, respect? Instead of shouting into the void, how about reaching out, listening, bringing others along, allowing them in? Changing minds is unnecessary, but educating and learning from one another makes us all better off.
In your community, are you witnessing or experiencing ways in which people of differing backgrounds or perspectives are reaching out to and educating one another? What have you seen that worked? What are you yourself doing to listen more, learn more, educate more? The CLC Community would value your insight and ideas. Please take a moment to comment at CoffeeLunchCoffee.com. Happy Networking!