Monthly Focus: Start the Conversation

In a world that feels increasingly polarized, loneliness, disconnection and frustration have begun to feel like insurmountable issues. It seems as though there exists a crisis of distrust within our communities and even among friends. Physical and emotional isolation have started to plague even the most resilient among us. Anger has flared. The people we meet have started to feel like strangers, representations of “the other,” not true individuals. It has begun to feel as if true connection is no longer achievable. This distorted view of reality is often difficult to overcome for a variety of reasons, but there is still reason to have hope. By actively engaging in respectful, intentional conversations, and by focusing on shared values, we can work to bridge the perceived divides in our communities and foster a more inclusive and understanding society. 

In today’s media landscape, we are often bombarded daily by messages amplifying the most extreme views suggesting that our communities are deeply divided. Social media algorithms, for instance, tend to prioritize content that aligns with our existing beliefs, creating echo chambers that reinforce our views and make alternative perspectives seem more extreme than they actually are. 

Additionally, political and social issues have become increasingly polarized, with many people feeling strongly about issues that are central to their identity and core values. This emotional investment can make it challenging to have constructive conversations with those who hold opposing views.

However, there is a powerful and transformative tool we can use to combat these real and perceived differences. The simple act of individuals having intentional and respectful conversations has the power to change hearts and help people to see that our differences are not insurmountable. When we listen first to understand, ask questions and seek to understand another’s experiences and values, and when we are open to sharing our story and listening respectfully and with humility to the story of others, we can humanize those we perceive as different from us. This will in turn lead to greater empathy and compassion in the world and within our communities. We can discover common ground and shared values that transcend differences. We can discover and co-create sustainable solutions to the problems facing our world and local communities today.

Despite the perception of great differences that exist within our world today, we hold the power to revitalize our communities and strengthen our relationships. The straightforward act of having a conversation, intentionally reaching across real and perceived differences to find common ground and understanding can be overwhelmingly transformative. We do not have to agree. We do not have to change our beliefs, points or principles. We simply need to talk. We need to engage with humility in respectful dialogue. With patience and an open mind, we can begin to decrease the perceived divide and unite across differences to create a world with more understanding and compassion. 

It can all begin with a single conversation.  

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InterFaith Health Equity Partnership Bridging to Belonging Group

“Each person in the group together creates a collective design like a patch or swath of cloth. As the individual patches are formed,  we come together with a common goal of unity and acceptance like a patchwork quilt.”

-Stancy Adams, Chairwoman, InterFaith Leadership Council and Bridging to Belonging Discussion Group Moderator

The InterFaith Health Equity Partnership Bridging to Belonging Group has been moved to explore health equity issues, recognizing the importance of addressing disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. They are committed to learning more, advocating for change, and co-creating equitable healthcare solutions for all.

Plymouth Area Bridging to Belong Group

Members of the Plymouth Area Bridging to Belonging group were invited by Paul Talwar to the Mata Tripta Ji Gurdwara Sahib in Plymouth on Sunday, March 10th. Lou Whitlock, Heather Pacheco, Dr. Walid Harb gathered for a presentation by Paul on Sikhism and a tour. They also listened to Sikh prayers and enjoyed a vegetarian meal and conversation.