August Practice: Binding Together

Young people gathered near waterway

Photo: Jens Johnsson via Unsplash

From the founding moments of our country, people from different faith traditions, and no faith at all, have put their deepest values into action to serve the common good. Their stories and their legacy, which is often religiously and spiritually grounded, can help bind together the various identities represented in our nation.
Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) in their Innovation Grants Request for Proposals

As we observe International Youth Day on August 12, it seems a good time to both honor and join the efforts of young leaders and peacemakers who are endeavoring to heal cultural, religious, and political divides.

In this practice, we invite you first to explore—with a youthful curiosity—your own deepest values and beliefs and how they impact your worldview. What assumptions undergird your core values, your stands on issues? What contributed to the formation of those beliefs?

Second, bring that openness and curiosity to conversations with others. Are there common threads underlying divergent viewpoints that you can follow? What questions might help you find those threads? Are there gaps in knowledge—your own or others—that might clear up misconceptions or misunderstandings, or build bridges between you? A recent study published in Psychological Science noted that extreme political attitudes may stem from an illusion of understanding. Researchers found that participants softened their positions after having to explain them. “According to the researchers, these findings shed light on a psychological process that may help people to open the lines of communication in the context of a heated debate or negotiation.”

We also invite you to share what young leaders and peacemakers in your community are doing to help heal the heart of American democracy. We know there are many inspiring examples of good works and ideas taking root in families, congregations, educational institutions, and communities across the country. Let’s bring them to light!