When my husband said we were asked to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world my stomach churned so hard I had to sit down.
How was this possible? We said we would go ANYWHERE in the world except – THERE! Scenes from movies and the news melded with my own fears and questions were fired off so rapidly my husband could not reply.
A “yes” wasn’t possible if I could not change my thinking:
- From the losses to the possible gains.
- From the challenges to the possible opportunities.
- From fear to faith.
One of the possible opportunities was living in a diverse compound filled with people from other parts of the world and learning from each other. (I had no idea at that time how diverse – Our little compound hosts people from more than 30 different nations.)
The vision of celebrating our differences was so motivating to me – that I unconsciously began to assume that everyone who had relocated here, had the same focus.
The reality is that some people shared that vision or have acquired it along the way. However…
- For some, moving anywhere away from home is torture – let alone adding the element of extreme culture shock.
- Others can accept a new location depending on where it is.
- Some are simply too busy with the details to focus on possible gains. (Getting children moved, in school and settled, navigating a new health care system…)
- Others are trying to provide emotional support to family on the other side of the world while adjusting to life here.
- And a significant number are navigating most of this alone – as their husbands are on worksites or traveling for a majority of the month.
So when normal cultural misunderstandings occur in our compound – The people involved are already under loads of stress. In those moments, previous perceptions fuel behavior that is less than ideal – and the responses are swift, judgmental and lingering. When that happens, I am reminded that we are a snapshot of the daily challenges in our world.
In the three years we’ve lived here, I’ve heard people say phrases like these more times than I’ve heard them in my entire life:
- I hate ___________ (insert any nationality).
- We all hate _________ (insert any nationality).
- Those ________ (insert any nationality or religious group).
- I’m not racist but __________.
So now when I watch the news and my social media feeds – I keep seeing what is lost in the great divide between “Us” and “Them”:
Each one of those losses continues to impact families, workplaces, communities, nations and our world…
We don’t have to passively watch as it happens. Each one of us can make the choice to break the cycle of division and help healing begin.
I recently shared how inspired I was when I watched a police officer named Chip Huth share how he and his department were transformed when they learned to see people instead of seeing problems. And how his TEDx talk introduced me to the Anatomy of Peace Book.
This month a group of ladies from several different nations on our compound, will be reading the book and then getting back together to discuss it.
We’re seizing the opportunity to learn and grow in ways we can’t imagine yet.
- Imagine what would happen if each one of us found ways to alter our thinking and behavior just a little…
- Imagine the difference we could make if we planted more seeds of understanding and peace right where we are…
- Imagine what could happen if more people read the book and would have similar discussions…
- Imagine the impact we could have on the world if we took those skills with us to our next locations and back to our own nations…
PLEASE SHARE: Have you considered how you can plant seeds that heal division? What are you doing to create unity?
Want more ideas about how you can be an agent of change in a world that needs healing?
Check out the links below:
- Stop attacking the character of others in order to refute his or her ideas.
- In the Face of Terrorism, Why it’s More Important Than Ever to Travel.
- The difference between Debating and Discussing.
The first two articles in this series are linked here:
- Benefits of Learning from Those Who Think Differently
- Opinions Anonymous: For recovering opinionistas that are tired of division
Image Credit: Pixabay