The Decisive Moment

I faced a decisive moment yesterday.

Without providing the detail, just let me say that I shared an idea that I believed had tremendous power and truth. I knew when I shared it that some of my friends would be troubled by it. But I wanted them to read it and think about it. Some read, some thought about it, and some responded.

And that’s when the decisive moment surfaced.

S-b Logo.001I’ve been writing about the Better Understanding Project. To this point, I have hovered around the first step — a commitment to the principle of what I have called in other arenas, the “Three Cs” (Communication, Conversation, Community). More about that will be unveiled in my next article.

The second step in the Better Understanding Project is to identify a thought or a concept that is worthy of exploring and put it out there for others to consider. That is what I did yesterday.

But I’m skipping to the third step in the Project process, because I was surprised when I reached it yesterday.

You see, the third step in the Better Understanding Project is to personally resubmit to the process. It is the decisive moment for success.

After I launched the idea for others to consider yesterday, I was warmed by the positive responses I received. But then, I received a single negative reply. Succinctly worded, a friend simply said, “I don’t agree. But I hope you have a great day.”

My first inclination was to force my friend to reconsider or to assume that he misunderstood the thought or, if all else failed, to belittle him for his lack of mental acuity. After all, something was wrong if he didn’t agree with me.

Then it hit me. He had done exactly what he should have done. He considered the idea, he discerned his personal position, and he firmly, yet kindly, made that known to me.

And I almost blew it with my self-centered response.

But it was the decisive moment. And I decided to resubmit to the process — to see if I could come to a better understanding of his thought processes and his values.

“Thanks for letting me know,” I replied. And I’ve begun crafting my next conversation. When I reached the decisive moment, I found that I truly want to come to a better understanding.

It’s this third step that will set us apart. I hope that you will be thinking of what you will do in that decisive moment. It’s coming.

The Starting Point

Every movement has a starting point.

When the ball began to spin or the wheel began to roll, a burst of energy surged or, in some cases, a source of energy died. In some of these moments, the change was hard to miss and, in others, the change was negligible. Yet, there was a change.

Sometimes forces combine to instigate the movement. Each force contributes in its unique way. Without one or the other, the evolving motion would look differently. Every push or pull has meaning and those who join the movement are best served when all forces are recognized and valued.

A movement has started. Increasing clamor has invaded our safe places as friends, neighbors, and enemies have recognized that change is imminent. Importantly, all have felt fear at the thought that the change that is coming is not welcome change.

In truth, because of the state of constant change, much of our apprehension is misplaced. Things rarely are entirely as we would want them. And, when that is so, we adjust. We make decisions and take actions that alleviate our fears and calm our nerves. We call this exercise “living.” We navigate life pretty well for the most part.

But our fears of war, economic downturns, loss of future opportunities, and challenges to personal determination and safety seem different this time. Perhaps it’s an effect of pervasive media. Or maybe it is the awesome and awful perception that forces have been set in motion that will truly bring devastation to the life we want for ourselves and for others.

Whatever it is, a growing feeling is that our leaders have lost the ability to converse and reason together. We, as both individuals and a people, are retreating to an identity defined by our position on various topics. We are becoming known for “what we want” instead of “who we are.” When that happens, understanding the viewpoint of others is sacrificed on the altar of self.

Life was never intended to be this way. In simpler times, people disagreed – but they gathered and talked and rearranged their lives to compensate for diversity of thought and deed.

S-b Logo.001For several months we have been asking you to consider joining a movement that will make a difference for you, your family, your friends, and even those who oppose what you want or need or dream. The Better Understanding Project (the “S/b Project”) is an initiative from the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution to provide guidance and real-life tools to engage and embrace those who differ from us, to come to an understanding of what they think and why they think it, and to chart a course of reasonable response.

We are asking that you commit to that movement today. You can be a force in bringing change to the world. We’re not asking you to commit to a particular worldview or even a neighborhood view that differs from the one you now see. We are simply asking that you seek a better understanding before you settle in intractable positions. We are asking you to listen, to express yourself, and to influence or be influenced. Regardless, we want you to be the decision maker for your life. And, we will provide you with a guide and perhaps even the opportunities to accomplish that in a responsible way.

The starting point – the moment of commitment – is before you. Will you be known as a person who seeks better understanding?

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You don’t have to pay membership dues or take a pledge or even make eye contact to be a part of the Better Understanding Project. However, if you feel the need for your commitment to be known, please let us hear from you today. You can leave a comment here or you can email us at conflictresolution@acu.edu.

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Be Double-Edged

If you’ve decided to be a peacemaker, you’ve chosen a life of interruptions.

Oddly, we choose this path because of our desire for calm and ease, both for ourselves and others. Yet our calling pulls us into the middle of strife, tension, and almost constant change. Fatigue, frustration, and even fear can creep into our thoughts — draining our energy and our motivation to provide a safe space for reason, understanding, agreement, and reconciliation.

IMG_0087Such strain and such drain can squelch the spirit of the peacemaker.

Resolve to be double-edged in your approach to conflict resolution and reconciliation.

Don’t become lost in your dreams for tranquility. You must also find strength and protection in self-care. Surround yourself with other peacemakers. Don’t be too proud to seek and accept their help with your personal struggles.

Peacemaking is not a solitary effort. By its very nature, peace forms groups of people into a community focused on the common welfare of all — even those with whom we disagree.

As you face the road ahead, accept the responsibility of blessing others with your gifts of peace. But, never forget that the balance that enables you to continue and flourish in your work demands that you accept blessings even as you give them.

Be double-edged, both giving and accepting blessings in every deed. Bless and be blessed in this new year!

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