Creating a Culture of Connection
What is your “worldview”? What do you hold dear? The answers to these questions are both the composite and the creator of your attitudes, values, stories, and expectations about your world and the world around you. They inform your every thought and action. Your worldview manifests as your ethics, religion, philosophy, and beliefs.
We arise from our cultures of origin, so we are a product of that culture, and we have everything that is necessary to be the producers of new cultures. Humans have been creating cultures since we first walked the earth.
Are you a “glass-half-full” person – an optimist that sees the positive in everything, or a “glass-half-empty” pessimist that goes to the darker side, thinking the worst of any situation? Most of us vacillate between the two depending on context.
If you had magical powers (which, of course, you do), what culture would you create? Would it be utopian? Would everyone get along without challenges or disagreements? Would it be so peaceful that terminal stasis might set in? Or would it be a world in which citizens are truly free to think independently, to share the breadth of their creativity, to debate respectfully, challenge other’s opinions without fear, collectively focusing on solutions and constructive evolution? Could a world of health, harmony, and unconditional high regard that supports everyone in living their best yet to be, prevail?
Thousands of people gathering in small groups are responding to the heart-call to create a world that works. In the interfaith world, we are creating a culture of connection that begins with compassionate curiosity. We are concerned about others’ experiences and encourage everyone to learn with and from one another. Kindness, stemming from mutual respect, is blossoming. Curiosity, which plays a huge role in how we relate to our world, is the strong desire to learn something more, something new. Our willingness to reach beyond the culture in which we were raised depends on our internal sense of safety blended with the divine urge to experience the unknown. Our culture of origin instilled acceptable and customary beliefs and social forms and formulas in us. We unconsciously embraced the material traits of our racial, religious and social groups. This worldview has out-pictured as our everyday existence – our way of life and the people with whom we share our lives. It is how we relate to all creation, our chosen diversions, the places we reside and our travels. As years have passed, some have stayed deeply linked to those original perspectives. Most of us have evolved, some more than others.
Some people look at the world and see it fractured, fragmented into myriad separate pieces. All they see are differences: different skin color, different size, shape, ethnicity, religion … different climates, different architecture. Different everything. Theirs is a world of “me and us” versus “other” – constantly contrasting what they believe to be known and safe with all that is different. The leap to an assumption that “different is dangerous” is all too easy. Gripped in fear, “fight, flight or freeze” instinctive, defensive reactions take over. Resourcefulness disappears.
Others, drawn by our common human desire to connect, may be challenged to find ways to relate to those individuals and groups that don’t align with our worldview. When confronted with personalities and appearances unlike ours, we may fumble and experience a jumble of emotions, yet continue to pursue connection. We experiment. Some of our tries turn out to be life-affirming and others quite opposite, and we don’t give up. We look around and note in awe and wonder, the myriad distinction of creation in expression. We drink in commonalities and celebrate all the differences. We recognize that we are looking at the same world through different subjective filters.
Commonalities prevail throughout nature. We are all made of the same stuff. For the most part, it is only when personality, rather than physicality, is brought into the equation that concerns about “different” crop up. Distinctions within commonalities are what make Life rich. Innate distinctions are what express as myriad appearances, gifts, talents, and desires.
The tension of opposites – the pull and push of life – stirs creativity. New solutions, new ways of being together are revealed. The Divine Urge within each of us desires to resolve conflict and harmonize our world. Coming together across myriad cultures and faith traditions, contemplating co-existence, I hear within me, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” What if we were to ask, “What do we have in common? Let me count the ways.” I am sure we would discover ways to love one another. And, what if in love, we were to ask, “Tell me how it is to be you, your life, and those you love.”
Ernest Holmes shared what won’t work: “You cannot draw love into your consciousness through hate. You cannot draw peace from confusion. You cannot see beauty through ugliness, nor hear harmony while your ears are filled with discord.” So what will work?
We must develop a Culture of Connection! It may be easier than you think, here are some simple steps:
- Embrace your desire to create a Culture of Connection and commit to doing your part
- Set your intention to consistently be present in your conversations
- Silence our fear-mongering self-talk to the best of your ability
- Enter a consciousness of Love because it is contagious
- Express genuine, compassionate curiosity
- Initiate conversations – talk to strangers even though your mother told you not to.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.