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How do we learn to speak across difference?

As we enter into this 2019, one thing we know is that we need as a society to learn to speak across difference. The segmentation of the media and all the ways that we have now to hide in our own private spaces have let our skills of talking to those whose opinions are different from ours atrophy. And so many of us have experiences in which conflict has been scarring or difficult, so we don’t want to talk to those who might be in conflict with us today.

Too often we disagree with someone, we look for ways to avoid conversation or contact. This comes from the idea that there can be only one truth and we want to be with the people who know the truth. Learning our way into multiple truths is one of the spiritual disciplines that our faith invites us into.

It can be both true that we need to honor those who have dedicated years of service to our organizations and it can also be true that we need to hear the voices of those who inherit our world. All of us need to be open to ways to learn to listen without that right or wrong paradigm. In order to do this we must be willing to engage directly and not construct a bubble around us.

I’m deeply grateful to those who give me direct feedback and who are willing to talk about ways that they disagree with me. I have come to believe that our congregations learning to do this together might be one of the most important ways to live into our values and we can offer to ourselves into our world. In that spirit, I invite everyone to join us for a conversation on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. when we will talk about racial bias and our beloved congregation. This New Year may we continue to experiment, grow and learn about how we can engage in healthy conflict together.

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