“Are we not interested in one another?” — Elizabeth Alexander, poet
What do a Chicago-based Indian Muslim, a host on a National Public Radio show and a Boy Scout troop leader in Oklahoma have in common? Amid an international dialogue that sounds disharmonious, rude, strident and angry, they are three voices of sanity.
Each believes the answer to facing differences in religion, culture or lifestyles is listening to understand those who are different from us — not attempting to change the other, but to hear and respect and even find those ways in which we are alike and have shared values.
Eboo Patel is an Indian Muslim who grew up in Chicago. He is a Rhodes Scholar with a Ph.D. from Oxford and is founder of the Interfaith Youth Core. Patel will be featured at Oklahoma City University's Distinguished Speaker's Series on Oct. 23. Co-sponsored by the Oklahoma Interfaith Alliance, Patel will share his vision of an America in which our commonalities are more important than our differences.
Krista Tippett is the host of NPR's “On Being.” One feature of her show is what she calls Civil Conversations — a series of radio shows and an online resource for beginning new conversations in families and communities between people of opposing views.
Tippett asks: How do we speak the questions we don't know how to ask each other? Can we find ways to bridge gulfs between us about politics, morality and life itself? Can we do that even while we continue to disagree, passionately? Civil Conversations illustrates how it is possible.
Boy Scout troop leader Chris Wood teaches, “When you see someone you don't agree with, people's instinct is to turn them away. In reality you are better doing the opposite. You should look at them and say, ‘Let's talk.'”
A line from a video produced by Cleveland Clinic poses the question: “If you could stand in someone else's shoes — hear what they hear, see what they see, feel what they feel — would you treat them differently?”
Email Charlotte Lankard at firstname.lastname@example.org.