“I am regularly reminded that “civility” as a practice and “unity” as a goal are not universally embraced,” writes Living Room Conversations partner Justine Lee in the USA Today.
Justine shares how on the right and on the left, calls for civility and unity can ring hollow, and can sound like sweeping our important differences under the rug.
By engaging with different perspectives, Justine’s beliefs haven’t been diluted or weakened. Quite the opposite. Exposure to differing views has helped clarify what issues matter most.
You can read Justine’s entire story here. We hope you do, because it opens up an important conversation about the misconceptions of being a bridge builder.
Listening and seeking to understand opposing views has only strengthened Justine’s positions and clarified her values.
She’s gained an appreciation for the complexity, nuances, and contradictions we all bring to our positions. Her bridging work has put a human face on her political other, and increased her empathy for people who think differently.
Many of us have lost our jobs, our health, and our loved ones. Not everyone has the capacity and inner spaciousness to be a bridge person.
But if you feel so called to having conversations across difference, and we hope you do, please know this:
You will not be asked to leave your convictions at the door. But you will be asked to examine your convictions in a new light.
You will not be asked to change your positions. But by listening to opposing positions, yours may shift or grow more resolute.
You will not be asked to give up your values. But your values may grow stronger when you have to articulate why they matter.
This isn’t about mere tolerance. We’re seeking robust cooperation that affirms our individual identities while emphasizing that the wellbeing of each depends on the health of the whole.
But first, let’s have a conversation, and stay open to the possibility that we just might surprise each other.
Yours in unity and in conviction,