Division is everywhere in our world today. We are separated politically, ideologically and racially, and the situation is made worse because we have to stay at home, socially distance and be divided from our communities. No-one does well alone – we all do better when we’re connected to others. Despite the circumstances, however, there are proactive steps we can take to heal and come together again. Here’s how:
1. Respect Others
Respect is due regard for the feelings, wishes or traditions of others. To unite, we have to lose what author Miles McPherson calls the ‘them’ and ‘us’ approach to people and embrace the concept of mutual respect.
• Respect Different Points of View
Nothing great has ever happened from hate. As Henry Ford said, “If there’s any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”
• Respect Different Perspectives and Experiences
Life becomes more expansive and enjoyable when you celebrate the difference in people. My bride, Beverly, is an African American lady from Sumter, South Carolina and I’m a white boy from the Southside of Dublin. You couldn’t find two more different backgrounds … and that’s where the magic is!
• Respect Diversity of Thought
Malcolm Forbes called diversity ‘the art of thinking independently together.’ It’s not about who can shout the loudest, it’s about listening and respecting the other person. But you must first give respect before you can receive it.
2. Have Grace
The definition of being gracious is ‘being marked by kindness and courtesy’. Unfortunately, we are becoming a less gracious society.
• Look at the Face in the Mirror
It’s easy to point the finger at others and judge them for their words and actions but, to have more grace, we must first look to ourselves and examine our own behavior. As the Scottish theologian William Barclay said, “If we find ourselves becoming critical of other people, we should stop examining them and start examining ourselves.”
• Let He Without Sin Cast the First Stone
No-one is perfect. We all have flaws. We all say and do things we regret. If we’re going to have any chance to respect and have grace for one another, we have to understand that we’re all coming to the table as imperfect people.
• Grace Is Unmerited Favor
Grace is transformative – it doesn’t just change you; it can change the world. You can show grace with your words. You can respond to criticism with grace. You can forgive with grace. Grace is an unmerited favour: we all need to receive it, and we all need to give it.
3. Do Not Conform
As Mark Twain once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” It’s very important not to just conform.
• What Is Conformity?
Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group. It’s very easy to just follow the crowd but, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
• Don’t Conform
Know that there’s always more to learn and more diversity of opinion, thought and perspective to experience. Become a student, a thinker and a listener. If you want to be heard, you must first listen!
• Be Brave
As Thomas Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” It’s time to be brave and speak wisdom. But seek first to understand, then be understood. Always be respectful, be gracious and renew your mind instead of conforming.
America’s best days are yet to come but, instead of a cancel culture, we need a kindness culture. Instead of engaging in conflict, we have to engage in discourse. Let’s reunite! Listen to the latest episode of The Brian Buffini Show to learn more.