Our need for harmony will be in direct relationship with the amount of acrimony we feel. For example, I spoke with a minister last year who was teaching in the outskirts of New York on 9/11 2001. He told me that he’d never seen strangers come together as they did in the weeks after the attack on the Twin Towers. People went out of their way to be nice to each other, support each other, smile at each other, and lend a helping hand wherever they could.
He has not experienced anything like it since, and yet, we are seeing a similar sentiment expressed across continents in the wake of the New Zealand terrorist attack.
When People Start to Feel Better
At this juncture, it is important to remember that work towards harmony often dissipates in rhythm with receding acrimony. People start to feel better and get sidetracked.
This is natural.
So, if we want to be bridge-builders on a continual basis, not just in the aftermath of a tragedy, we have to work against this instinctive urge. We have to make harmony important, either by continually reminding ourselves of the worst that can happen or by envisioning the kind of world that we want to live in and work towards that every day (preferably both).
Either Way, We Are Responsible
During our outreach efforts here at Harmony Interfaith Initiative, we get a chance to talk to a variety of people and organizations. Some of those we contact point fingers and say: “It’s not us. It’s them. They started it. We are living in harmony with each other. They are the ones causing the ruckus.”
That’s often true. It may be true in your case as well. In fact, you may be doing your best to live in harmony and yet you cannot escape being disturbed by the discord around you.
All of us have to face up to that reality. Life is not an elementary school playground. We can’t wait for the teacher to come and make everything better, even if ‘they’ started it.
We are responsible. Even if we did not create the acrimony, even if we weren’t the ones who created the divide, we can be bridge-builders, healers, harmonizers, and a vital part of the solution.
We can reach out across divides that we did not create for the sake of social harmony. We can cause positive reverberations to offset negative discord. We can be the change we want to see in the world.
We just have to make it a priority in our lives and maintain our work towards harmony even after we begin to feel better.
This article was adapted from my new book:
Co-Human Harmony: Using Our Shared Humanity to Bridge Divides
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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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