Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Unknown

Last night I should have been editing but I was scrolling through article after article and I came across one article on Race to Dinner. For $2500.00 white women are paying two women activists of color to come into their home and discuss race with a small group over dinner.

It sounds crazy on the face of it but many people don’t know who to talk to about these things. Talking about things is one of the ways we create understanding. We need more talking. We need to talk to all kinds of people about all kinds of things.

I said to my husband I’d like to talk to police officers about how easy it is for things to escalate. How many of them have come close to situations taking a turn for the worse that somehow, miraculously did not?

One of the reasons we like YouTube talks is we can listen to people talk about things. How much more would we like it if we could have a conversation with people where we could understand how they feel and they could understand our side of things?

We often steer clear of divisive conversations. One Christmas we ended up with two guests leaving because something was said about religion that I missed because I was busy cooking in the kitchen. Conversations may get heated if we talk about things we need to talk about. They may get so uncomfortable we need to leave and cool off. We may need to keep talking about them so we understand each other’s point of view. We may never completely agree but maybe through talking, we can understand their point of view and they can understand ours.

It is unlikely we will ever get over our bias of one kind or another. Being so polarized that we can’t talk about things is not good. We need to talk, we need to understand each other, and we need to heal.

You’re not learning anything unless you’re having the difficult conversations. Gwyneth Paltrow

Also last night an article about Syrian refugees in Germany came up. A small town in East Germany was about to lose their school. The Syrian refugees were coming into Germany and one of the people from the small town thought inviting some Syrian families to live in their small town would be the answer to the problem each group faced. Not everyone on both sides thought it was a good idea but they took the chance.

The East Germans in the village had felt disenfranchised in Germany during the reunification. They felt their experiences in East Germany didn’t seem to count. The elders had lived through a war. They had a lot in common with the Syrians as they got to know them. Each group taught the other what they knew and in a few years, they were a cohesive community. The people coming from Syria contributed to the community and together they made it better for everyone.

It may be easier to accomplish this in small communities. Part of our problem may be in big cities we don’t get to know people. We don’t get to see what they have to offer. Instead of getting to know them, we fear them and they fear us.

What if instead of steering clear of difficult conversations we discussed them over dinner with people who are different from ourselves? We seek to understand and be understood. We face up to the realities of life, we don’t expect it to be perfect, but we each work to make things better one conversation at a time. It isn’t about changing someone’s point of view so much as understanding it.

One way to have some of these conversations is through a book club. We read books on every subject and we can discuss issues through the lens of characters and it brings up experiences we have had. Some of the best conversations have been book club conversations.

Are we willing to have difficult, awkward, and disturbing conversations?

Be open to every uncomfortable, awkward, difficult conversation you will engage. Disturb the ground to grow. Then adjust the margin of grace. Dr. Octavious Bishop

Being taught to avoid talking about politics and religion has led to a lack of understanding of politics and religion. What we should have been taught was how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic. Unknown

I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. Thomas Jefferson

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

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Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

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