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.
For 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.