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With Respect for our Differences

In May I had the great honor of collaborating with people from across the political spectrum in a joint Campaign to Reunite America. I am filled with awe, respect and hope at the unfolding of this transpartisan movement spearheaded by a former conservative Army Ranger officer, who sees beyond the partisan divides to our nation’s potential wholeness. (www.transpartisan.net) Representatives of 75 million Americans are joining together in this magnificent reunion, including founders, presidents and executive directors of associations on the political right, left, center and nonpartisan as exemplified by the Christian Coalition, MoveOn.org and the American Library Association. (www.democracycampaign.org)

How do we foster relationships between people who think differently and sometimes radically so? As with everything else that we want to change in the world, I am reminded that the change must begin within each of us. To that end, I am consciously nurturing an eager anticipation to learn from people who think differently from me. Now, when someone speaks in seeming opposition to my own beliefs, instead of withdrawing or engaging in debate as I used to, I am training myself to say pensively, “How interesting.” This serves two purposes: It gives me time to take a deep breath, center myself and remember that the other is actually an other part of myself. It also keeps the conversation open, especially if I follow it with, “Tell me more.” Listening with my heart, I am duly rewarded: I not only learn about the other, I sometimes learn to love that part of my Self.

Try it yourself. The next time someone says something that opposes your beliefs, say, “How interesting.” Take a deep breath remembering the Agreement “I agree to respect our differences” and follow with, “Say more about that.” I look forward to hearing the results you experience!

Practicing the Agreements enables me to listen with my heart while speaking my own truth; respect our differences even if we disagree; and see the best in others (and myself). For us to reunite as Americans—and humanity—we begin with our own daily practice of Truth, Acceptance and Gratitude. “You Must Be the Change You Wish to See in the World” was not just Mahatma Ghandi’s good idea – it is the only way to true transformation.

These times call for revolutionary agreements. Please share your stories (newseditor@revolutionaryagreements.org) about how the Agreements help you cross the divides in your own life at home and at work. Your stories are powerful proof that together we can change our lives and thus change our world.

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