Is there more divisiveness in the world now than at any other time in history? That’s a question that is nearly impossible to answer. That said, most people we talk to feel that divisiveness of all sorts—be it political, theological, racial, or personal—has become a sustained part of their everyday life, even if they don’t want to participate in it. The question then becomes: How do people respond to such sustained divisiveness?
An Array of Responses to Acrimony
The following is a sample of common responses:
Some people tune out and become apathetic. “It’s not my problem,” they exclaim. But even as they try to stay immune, those who choose apathy are not immune to the trend. The modern spread of discord is such that it will reach them sooner or later.
Debilitating Angst and Worry
Other people are glued to the news and scour social media feeds for all signs of divisiveness. At the same time, many feel that they are powerless to stop the discord and become debilitated by fear and anxiety.
When feelings that accompany sustained acrimony become overwhelming, many have found their way to the bottom of a bottle of red wine (or two or three or four…). Other popular numbing agents are drugs (legal and illegal), binge watching television, overeating, smoking, and forms of behavior that temporarily distract from the surrounding rancor. But numbing doesn’t solve any problems.
Anger and Outrage
These days, there is a rather large movement of people calling for sustained anger and outrage. While this may be understandable in some cases, it is a well-known fact that anger begets anger; that hate begets hate; that spiritual teachers of all ages have urged devotees to do what is hard and meet hate with love. In addition to be enervating and causing people feel drained and exhausted, anger and outrage do not fix the underlying problems that are causing the divisiveness to begin with.
A Better Response is Needed
Ever since the foundation of our organization, we have been heartened to see that many people have chosen a different response. They are doing their very best to be a part of the solution and want to bring about more social harmony and bridge divides.
We see this reflected in the individuals that have attended our talks and programs in the past year or so. Simultaneously, we have noticed a general uptick in both individual and organizational bridge-building efforts across the country.
What all the positive efforts we have seen have in common is solution-orientation. Instead of responding to the outrage of the moment, people are thinking long-term about mending relationships and finding ways for people to live together in harmony (at least, some version of harmony). They realize that having a good grasp of the problem is important, but then they are willing to roll up their sleeves and contribute to the solution in any way they can.
Small Actions Cause Ripple Effects
Naysayers will point out that all these efforts are small and unlikely to change the social atmosphere any time soon. We disagree. Small efforts create ripples.
We agree with those sentiments. People, who have attended our online seminar, have left with plans to improve relations in their apartment buildings and within their families. Those relationships matter. Some have been more ambitious and have engaged their faith communities to reach out across both theological and racial divides. That may not change the world, but it will change those communities.
The bottom line is that small actions matter!
We Are Here to Support You
If you are solution-oriented, we are here to support you. That is our primary goal. Feel free to contact us at any time with your questions and comments. Just remember that when it comes to creating social harmony, no effort is ever wasted.
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Our Vision and Primary Goals
We are an educational and social good interfaith organization. We provide people with access to strategies, methods, and ideas that promote social harmony and enable bridge-building across divides. We use the term interfaith broadly to mean 'a strong belief in someone or something' and focus on improving interrelations between people who have different worldviews. Our primary goals are to remind people of our shared humanity and to support new and ongoing efforts.
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©Harmony Interfaith Initiative
Registered in Hays County, Texas
Founded in 2018
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