RUTHIE YARME
Syntara System Energy Practitioner

Building Bridges : the Power of Story


This past week, I was in Washington DC. Chaperoning fourteen smart, thoughtful, kind-hearted, open-hearted homeschooling teenagers. They were participating in a program put on by the Close-up Foundation. After flying across the country, they were assigned rooms with other high school students from different states (many with opposing political views). Their third night, those views came blazing into the spotlight as they simulated the House of Representatives.

The kids debated tricky political issues. It was challenging to watch as both sides talked past each other. When we met with them afterwards, they felt exhausted and discouraged.

The next morning, we went to Congress. The Senate was debating tricky political issues. It was challenging to watch as both sides talked past each other. As I sat there, I felt exhausted and discouraged.

Then yesterday, I jumped into a Facebook debate about tricky political issues. This time, I was among those talking past someone and having them talk past me. You guessed it...exhausted and discouraged.

How do we move past this divide? Where's our bridge? My personal thought is that our bridge is "story." And by story, I mean heart-felt truth. I mean asking people who disagree with us to share the story behind their beliefs. I mean sharing the story behind ours. What is at the heart of it? Why do we feel it so strongly? How do we give voice to all that is challenging and beautiful and complicated and real?

On the National Mall, there is a new museum dedicated to African American history and culture. I don't want to give any spoilers because it is as must-see/must-experience as the Holocaust Museum. What I will say is that it exemplifies the power of story to bridge a divide. The whole time, it felt as if an entire culture was opening up its vulnerable self and whispering, "See me." And in its vulnerability, all I wanted to do was listen.

Can we be that vulnerable? Can we be that open? Can we allow others to be that vulnerable? and open? What would our world look like if we could?


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