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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.

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Chris Noble
Chris Noble
2 months ago

A few principles come to mind: “Treat others like you want to be treated”, “It takes two to tango”, and “listening is a lot harder than talking”. Sometimes, these conditions can’t be met, and all one can hope for is an honest exchange of views; but that’s a start.

David Levine
David Levine
2 months ago

When you bring Jesus into the conversation you lose me totally. I am not interested in superstition and mythic beings. I aggressively deny the existence of a paternalistic, benevolent father figure who has a reason for everything we do on earth. We are alone in this world. There is no God. There is no Jesus.

Katherine Duncan
Katherine Duncan
Reply to  David Levine
2 months ago

There is a power greater than all things. There is a power greater than all men? Do you believe that much?

David Levine
David Levine
Reply to  Katherine Duncan
2 months ago

There are many things more powerful than human endeavor. Is there a power “greater than all things?” What does that even mean? If that were true, then would it be a power greater than itself?  Wind, or rain, or any weather, for instance, is more powerful than humans can control. But to say that such events are controlled by a conscious being with purpose and a plan has no basis in fact. One might wish it were so, but for better or worse there is no master plan, there is no master being, and we all die, totally and irrevocably, and return to the dust out of… Read more »

Gail Snow
Gail Snow
2 months ago

Have been thinking alot about unrequited love. Yesterday, as I was driving to work, a young man in the car behind me , began gesturing in an angry fashion. I was going the speed limit, but he was impatient. As he sped around me , I slowed down so he could pass quickly . The thought came to me that he could be my grandson! I did not look at him as he passed, but I felt a smile on my face and prayed for his safety. Of course , I will never know if he perceived my heart for… Read more »

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