Wednesday, February 02, 2011

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding

The recent tragedy in Tucson, AZ, has brought to the surface some important questions about how we, as a society, communicate with people who have different viewpoints from our own. I know it's made me think about how I communicate with friends and associates that have different beliefs than I do.

We all have been guilty of it in one form or another – name calling; believing we are right and anyone who disagrees with us is wrong; using violent language or imagery, etc. Our intent may be harmless but the impact is anything but. It doesn’t take long to think of a few recent examples, whether it was an elected official responding in a hostile way to a constituent they didn’t agree with, the person who was upset by the bipartisan seating at the State of the Union address or one of the usual suspects that comment negatively on any given story posted on

How did we get to this point? While thinking about it, the following lyrics came to mind:
“As I walk through this wicked world searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity. I ask myself, ‘Is all hope lost? Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?’” – Elvis Costello
I admit to being too cynical at times, and often find myself questioning whether things will really get better, and if people can behave more compassionately toward one another.

I think it is possible, if we make a conscious effort to think before we speak, pause before we act and try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.

One of our board members recently told me about the following clip, and I encourage all of you to watch it. In this video, Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of Omega Institute (the largest lifelong learning center focusing on health, wellness, spirituality, creativity and social change in the U.S.) suggests an interesting concept: taking “the other” to lunch. She offers some guidelines, and talks about her own experience going to lunch with someone whose viewpoints are radically different than her own.

I plan on trying it – will you?

-- Amy Lavelle, Development Associate

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