Most people live in fear of the other. The other person, the other god, the other government, the other store, the other brand, the other executive. For most, the only sure way to keep from being consumed or beat, or destroyed by the other is to destroy or win the battle against the other. But what happens when the world is viewed less as on big competition and more like one big oppportunity for all? Sure, easy for you to say Joshua, you live in that world of opportunity. But really, what would happen if it was less about my way, your way, the right way, or THE Way? What then of our relationships and life together?
I believe the worst of conversants have the opportunity to become the best of collaborators. Its only when we truly understand those that are most critical of us that we are able to be who we were uniquely created to be. But what are the rules of this dialogue? How can we go from “enemy to friend”?
Here are what i think are four guiding principles towards positive joint venture among people of divergent views or..reconstructive connectivity:
1. Respect- The heart of joining together as converants must begin with mutual respect. The possibility of collision is immanent. You are going to disagree and you are more than likely not going to agree. But if you both parties enter into conversation with respect, then you at least have that. More often than not, people come together for debate more than dialogue. They are more concerned about proving their side than they are about respecting the other human(s) sitting across from them. Respect simply can not be over looked; especially, if action and collaboration is desired.
2. More-than-closed mind- I had friend who once said, “Never forget Joshua, its in the nature of a closed mind to remain closed.” I’ve become increasingly convinced, that dialogue which leads to reconstructive connectivity must be approached with “more-than-closed minds”. In his book, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg argues for a “more than literal” reading of the bible. A reading which is about being “more than literal” in our approach, interpretation, and experiences of the subjects and stories of the Bible. Often, when we enter in to dialgue with others, everyone on every side of a debate becomes even more deeply defensive about their side. And while healthly dialogue is not about being consumed or being changed to resemble the other, it is inevitably about being more-than-closed in our conversation. We need to hold closely to what we “really” believe for the sake of the action being undertaken. We need to recognize that things which are the closest to us, are often the things which we can harm the most if we strangle the life out of them. An inability to hold closely, without holding closedly, will only lead to a conversation by which one party feels like they’ve laid it all out, and the other like they may have won a few points for their side. This isn’t dialogue, this is dictation.
3. Recontruct together, for another- After much debate and dialogue, most people coming from different places have to admit that they are much better at joining together on projects that are outside of themselves. They have to admit that while they have certain preferences about the way things ought to be done, it will only be when they find an “alternative other” that they can really get past themselves. In many places around the world, there are groups who are chossing to partner together for the sake of “the other” despite thier personal interests needing to be put on hold. In these cases, individuals and groups have to keep their eyes, not on what they want or desire, but on the bigger and more important venture that they’ve headed off on. If this trend continues, one will eventually be forced to ask, are we really doing this because we care, or because it looks good to be doing it with “you”.
Increasingly in our world, we’re going to have to work with people that we do not see eye-to-eye with. Beyond religion, beyond economic policy, beyond job posting. Our motives and our interests are not going to align automatically. We’ve spent too long making sure we were unique for that to happen. The world needs people willing to reconstruct a future beyond individual or micro-communal preferences, and towards the kind of place that reflects real constructive interconnectedness. Interconnectedness that says, “we’ve tried long enough to things as individuals and micro-communities, if we don’t start caring, together nothing is going to change!”
My only question becomes…does that mean there is one way of doing it???