How we are able to communicate is often at the heart of how we can make change. For example, even the most thoroughly researched and well-documented recommendations for change do not implement themselves. People must implement change. Therefore, our work is to engage with people, including those that disagree with us.
When we speak up about injustice and when we take chances by authentically sharing informed perspectives with others who may not agree, we run the risk of engaging in conflict. If we only speak up and weigh in on issues when we know that everyone around us agrees, we may feel safe and even affirmed, but we may not have done much to make the world a better place.
One of our core values at RDA reads as follows:
We exhibit bravery through our willingness to speak up and take risks even when conflict emerges.
Being brave does not equate to being arrogant or self-righteous. It takes courage to know that we do not hold absolute truths and that we may be wrong. Instead, we cultivate and express humility as we speak up. This value takes constant attention and time. When we view groups of others in this way, we are more likely to engage in meaningful dialogue and discourse.
My experience has taught me that exhibiting bravery through speaking up and taking risks when conflict emerges necessarily requires concerted effort to cultivate relationships. Relationships are built on our interactions with others. And we must do so in a way that allows us to recognize and speak to the humanity in all people.