English subtítols

← The beauty and complexity of finding common ground

Obtén el codi d'incrustació
28 llengües

Showing Revision 8 created 06/26/2020 by Erin Gregory.

  1. So our story started several years ago,
  2. when my wife and I
    got a complaint letter in the mail
  3. from an anonymous neighbor.
  4. (Laughter)

  5. I'll never forget the way
    my wife transformed before my eyes

  6. from this graceful, peaceful, sweet woman
  7. into just an angry mother grizzly bear
    whose cubs needed to be protected.
  8. It was intense.
  9. So here's what happened.
  10. This is our family.

  11. This is my wife and I
    and our five awesome kids.
  12. We're pretty loud,
    we're pretty rambunctious,
  13. we're us.
  14. You'll notice, though,
    that two of our children
  15. look a little different than Mary and I,
  16. and that's because they came to us
    through adoption.
  17. Our neighbor, though,
    saw two different-looking children
  18. playing outside of our house every day
  19. and came to the conclusion
  20. that we must have been running
    an illegal day care out of our home.
  21. (Murmuring)

  22. We were really angry to have
    our children stereotyped like that,

  23. but I know that's a relatively
    minor example of racial profiling.
  24. But isn't it sometimes
    what we all tend to do
  25. with people who think differently,
  26. or believe differently
    or maybe even vote differently?
  27. Instead of engaging as true neighbors,
  28. we keep our distance
  29. and our actions towards those
  30. are guided by who we think
    sees the world as we do
  31. or who we think doesn't.
  32. See, what my neighbor suffered from
    is a condition called agonism.

  33. And sometimes we all suffer
    from the same condition.
  34. It's not a medical condition,
    but it is contagious.
  35. So let's talk a little bit
    about what agonism is.
  36. My favorite definition of agonism
  37. is taking a warlike stance
    in contexts that are not literally war.
  38. Agonism comes from the same
    Greek root word "agon"
  39. from which we get "agony."
  40. How very appropriate.
  41. We all tend to show symptoms of agonism
  42. when we hold on
    to two deeply held beliefs,
  43. first identified by author Rick Warren.
  44. The first one is that if love someone,
  45. we must agree with all they do or believe.
  46. And the second is the inverse,
  47. that if we disagree with someone,
  48. it must mean that we fear or we hate them.
  49. Not sure we really recognize the agony
    this way of thinking brings to us,

  50. when our relationships die
  51. because we think
    we have to agree or disagree
  52. no matter what.
  53. Think about the conversations
    we've had around Brexit,
  54. or Hong Kong,
  55. maybe Israeli settlements
    or perhaps impeachment.
  56. I bet we could all think
    of at least one personal relationship
  57. that's been strained or maybe even ended
    because of these topics,
  58. or tragically,
  59. over a topic much more trivial than those.
  60. The cure for agonism is not out of reach.
  61. The question is how.
  62. So might I suggest two strategies

  63. that my experience
    has taught me to start with.
  64. First, cultivate common ground,
  65. which means focusing on what we share.
  66. I want you to know I'm using my words
    very, very deliberately.
  67. By "cultivate," I mean
    we have to intentionally work
  68. to find common ground with someone.
  69. Just like a farmer works
    to cultivate the soil.
  70. And common ground is a common term,
  71. so let me at least explain
    what I don't mean,
  72. which is I don't mean by common ground
    that we were exact,
  73. or that we totally agree and approve.
  74. All I mean is that we find
    one unifying thing
  75. that we can have in a relationship
    in common with another person.
  76. You know, sometimes
    that one thing is hard to find.

  77. So I'd like to share a personal story,
  78. but before I do,
  79. let me tell you a little bit
    more about myself.
  80. I'm Caucasian,
  81. cisgender male,
  82. middle class, evangelical Christian.
  83. And I know, as soon as some
    of those words came out of my mouth,
  84. some of you had some perceptions about me.
  85. And it's OK,
  86. I know that not all
    those perceptions are positive.
  87. But for those who share my faith,
  88. know that I'm about
    to cut across the grain.
  89. And you may tune me out as well.
  90. So as we go,
  91. if you're having a hard time hearing me,
  92. I just gently ask that you reflect
  93. and see if you're buying into agonism.
  94. If you're rejecting me
  95. simply because you think
    you see the world differently than I do,
  96. because isn't that
    what we're here talking about?
  97. Alright, ready?
  98. So I've been thinking a lot
    about how to find common ground

  99. in the area of gender fluidity,
  100. as an evangelical Christian.
  101. For Christians like me,
  102. we believe that God
    created us man and woman.
  103. So what do I do?
  104. Do I throw up my hands and say,
  105. "I can't have a relationship
    with anybody who is transgender
  106. or LGBTQIA?"
  107. No.
  108. That would be giving into agonism.
  109. So I started looking
    at the foundational aspects of my faith,

  110. the first of which
  111. is that of the three billion genes
    that make us human --
  112. and by the way, we share
    99.9 percent of those genes --
  113. that I believe those three billion genes
    are the result of an intelligent designer.
  114. And that immediately gives me
    common ground with anybody.
  115. What it also gives me ...
  116. is the belief that each
    and every one of us
  117. have been given the right to life
  118. by that same intelligent designer.
  119. I dug deeper though.

  120. I found that my faith didn't teach me
  121. to start relationships
    by arguing with somebody
  122. until they believed what I believed,
  123. or I convinced them.
  124. No, it taught me to start relationships
  125. by loving them as a coequal member
    of the human race.
  126. Honestly though,
  127. some who share my faith draw a line
  128. and refuse to address somebody
    by their preferred gender pronoun.
  129. But isn't that believing the lie
    that in order for me to honor you,
  130. I have to give up what I believe?
  131. Come back in time with me --

  132. let's say it's 20 years ago,
  133. and Muhammad Ali comes to your doorstep.
  134. And you open the door.
  135. Would you address him as Muhammad Ali
  136. or his former name of Cassius Clay?
  137. I'm guessing that most of you
    would say Muhammad Ali.
  138. And I'm also guessing that most of you
  139. wouldn't think we'd have to
    immediately convert to Islam,
  140. just by using his name.
  141. To honor him would cost me,
    would cost any of us
  142. absolutely nothing,
  143. and it would give us the common ground
    to have a relationship.
  144. And it's the relationship
    that cures agonism,
  145. not giving up what we believe.
  146. So for me to honor my faith,

  147. it means rejecting
    these rigid symptoms of agonism.
  148. Meaning, I can and I will love you.
  149. I can and I will accept you,
  150. and I don't have to buy into the lie
  151. that if I do these things,
    I have to give up what I believe
  152. or chose to fear and hate you.
  153. Because I'm focusing
    on what we have in common.
  154. When you can find even the smallest bit
    of common ground with somebody,

  155. it allows you to understand
    just the beautiful wonder
  156. and complexity
  157. and majesty of the other person.
  158. Our second strategy

  159. gives us room to (Inhales)
  160. breathe.
  161. To pause.
  162. To calm down.
  163. To have the kind of relationships
    that cure agonism.
  164. And how to keep those relationships alive.
  165. Our second strategy is to exchange
    extravagant grace.
  166. (Laughs)

  167. Once again, I'm not mincing words --

  168. by grace, I don't mean
    we should all go sign up for ballet,
  169. that would be weird.
  170. (Laughter)

  171. What I mean is not canceling
    everything over one mistake.

  172. Even if that mistake
    personally offended you.
  173. Maybe even deeply.
  174. Perhaps Holocaust survivor
    Corrie ten Boom put it best
  175. when she said,
  176. "To forgive is to set a prisoner free,
  177. only to realize that prisoner was me."
  178. My faith teaches me that we humans
    will never be perfect,
  179. myself very much included.
  180. So we need the grace of a savior,
  181. who for me is Jesus.
  182. And while I define grace
    in the context of my faith,
  183. I know there's a lot of other people
    who have defined it differently
  184. and in different ways.
  185. One of my favorites is radio broadcaster
    Oswald Hoffmann, who said,
  186. "Grace is the love that loves the unlovely
  187. and the unlovable."
  188. And I just love that picture of grace.
  189. Because I know I am,
  190. and maybe a lot of you can think of a time
  191. when we're just pretty dadgum unlovable.
  192. So it would be the height of hypocrisy,

  193. dare I say repulsive to my faith,
  194. for me to accept
  195. the unconditional, unqualified
    grace and love from God
  196. and then turn around
  197. and put one precondition
    on the love I give you.
  198. What in the world would I be thinking?
  199. And by extravagant, I mean over the top,
  200. not just checking a box.
  201. We can all remember when we were kids
  202. and our parents forced us
    to apologize to somebody
  203. and we walked up to them
    and said, (Angrily) "I'm sorry."
  204. We just got it over with, right?
  205. That's not what we're talking about.
  206. What we're talking about
    is not having to give someone grace
  207. but choosing to and wanting to.
  208. That's how we exchange extravagant grace.
  209. Listen, I know this can sound
    really, really theoretical.

  210. So I'd like to tell you
    about a hero of mine.
  211. A hero of grace.
  212. It's 2014.
  213. In Iran.
  214. And the mother of a murdered son
    is in a public square.
  215. The man who murdered her son
    is also in that square,
  216. by a gallows,
  217. on a chair of some kind,
  218. a noose around his neck
  219. and a blindfold over his eyes.
  220. Samereh Alinejad
  221. had been given the sole right
    under the laws of her country
  222. to either pardon this man
  223. or initiate his execution.
  224. Put another way, she could pardon him
  225. or literally push that chair
    out from underneath his feet.
  226. (Exhales)

  227. I just ...

  228. I can't picture the agony
    going through both Samereh and this man
  229. at the time.
  230. Samereh with her choice to make,
  231. and this man, in the account
    that I read, was just weeping,
  232. just begging for forgiveness.
  233. And Samereh had a choice.
  234. And she chose in that moment
    to walk up to this man
  235. and to slap him right across the face.
  236. And that signaled her pardon.
  237. It gets better.
  238. Right afterwards, somebody asked her,

  239. they interviewed her,
    and she was quoted as saying,
  240. "I felt as if rage vanished
    from within my heart
  241. and the blood in my veins
    began to flow again."
  242. Isn't that incredible?
  243. I mean, what a picture of grace,
    what a hero of grace.
  244. And there's a lesson in there
    for all of us.
  245. That as theologian John Piper said,
  246. "Grace is power, not just pardon."
  247. And if you think about it,
  248. grace is the gift we give
    someone else in a relationship
  249. that says our relationship
    is way more important
  250. than the things that separate us.
  251. And if you really think
    about it some more,
  252. we all have the power to execute
    in our relationships,
  253. or to pardon.
  254. We never did find out
    the identity of our anonymous neighbor.

  255. (Laughter)

  256. But if we did, I'd hope we'd simply say,

  257. "Can we have coffee?"
  258. And maybe there's somebody
    you need to have coffee with
  259. and find your common ground with them.
  260. Or maybe there's somebody
    you're in a relationship with
  261. and you need to exchange
    extravagant grace.
  262. Maybe go first.
  263. These two strategies have taught me

  264. how to exchange extravagant grace
    in my relationships
  265. and to enjoy the beautiful design
    of my neighbors.
  266. I want to continue to choose
    relationships over agonism.
  267. Will you choose to join me?
  268. Thank you.

  269. (Applause)