“Your golden opportunity to start the cultural healing — and to improve your own life — will come as soon as the next confrontation. Will you take that opportunity?”
Last week the Dalai Lama and Arthur C. Brooks published a column in The Washington Post titled All of us can break the cycle of hatred, a plea for conversation, collaboration and forgiveness in this moment of deep division. They make the argument that Democracy doesn’t rely on our silence: it relies on our conversation; on our ability to hear each other with kindness before responding – and then to respond in kindness. This can be easy in theory – but really tough in practice. We often feel attacked when an opposing point of view is expressed, sometimes loudly, in our face (or in our inbox). It can take a lot to not respond in turn. And if the opposition is, at the same time, attacking people or values we cherish, we feel the need to defend them too, not just us.
But as the column shares, we can control our own reactions. We can decide if we add to the tension or deflate it. We can shape the tone of our discourse and our lives. Something I love about living in Cambridge, NY is the diversity of our points of view. And this diversity must be shared, heard, discussed. Not covered up or silenced, but given a full hearing, so we can process our relationships and deepen them through our exchange of ideas, rather than bury them in controlled silence and ignorance of each other.
At the same time, it feels important today to be able to draw distinctions between values and politics – and to not cede our values in silence. I hope I can follow the writers’ advice and do more to take a moment and react in a way that further builds community. I hope we all can be brave enough to not just agree to disagree in silence – but in conversation, collaboration and true community.