What is the Path Forward in a Culture of Hostility?

Our family — the five kids and we parents — has a meeting once or twice a week. During a recent meeting, my daughter Sarah angrily complained that I was not listening to her. The next morning, in an atmosphere of tension, I went to her room and apologized. We then continued our conversation.

She was grateful to me for having the courage and humility to seek to understand her and apologize to her, which healed the complaint in her heart and removed the barrier between us.

This personal story is a simple illustration of a challenging process. Attentive listening, with a sincere desire to understand, in the presence of judgement, accusation and rejection is not a path for the weak of heart. However, it can create an opportunity to reconnect, heart to heart. In today’s social and political culture, such true, open-hearted, committed dialogue among adversaries seems to be out of fashion.

I learned from Reverend Moon that the key to creating unity through reconciliation is to begin with a motivation of “true love” or unselfish love.  Jesus taught that you must not only have a heart of love for your family, friends, or neighbor. You must “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43).

When we rise to listen, motivated by unselfish love, to this level, it is not because people are particularly lovable, but because there is a higher purpose to our relationships. We are choosing to see them from God’s viewpoint. True dialogue can proceed between opponents on this basis.

Questions to Consider

Can you share valuable lessons you have learned from your personal or professional experiences of healing and reconciliation?

What is the first step forward in finding a path towards reconciliation? And who takes that extremely difficult first step?

Are there other components, not mentioned above, in the process of true listening for reconciliation?

Is there a way to systematize this natural principle of “true listening” as a tool to help address public discord on important social issues?

Please share your thoughts below.