Building Bridges

Building Bridges

I’m not generally the kind of person to get taken in by inspiring quotes or pictures or photos. It’s not that I’m cynical, but those kinds of platitudes don’t generally encourage me to get up in the morning and do my best. I have some friends who do great work that are inspired by this kind of thing…like this:

That said, I do occasionally hear or see something that I would consider to be incredibly inspiring. That happened this week, on Tuesday. I got to hear a fantastic keynote speech from Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Ilhan Omar is a representative in the Minnesota house. She is the first Somali-American, Muslim woman in the nation to hold an office at this level. I usually don’t talk about politics in this space, but Ii felt like her speech transcended politics for me. Full disclosure…we do share the same general political ideals.

Rep. Omar is a refugee from Somalia, fleeing with her family to a refugee camp in Kenya when she was 8, and living there for four years. Her family applied and was accepted to relocate to the US, and she started middle school (not the best years for any of us amirite) unable to speak English.

The thing that I took away from her speech was that it didn’t matter where you came from, or what job you have, or what political party you belong to. It’s about building relationships and finding commonalities.

Every time I turn on the news, I feel like we are told how we live in a nation divided. This isn’t something that goes away on its own. We must take the time to find those commonalties and learn from each other. We will disagree about things sometimes, but I think we should focus on the things that we do agree on. It took Rep. Omar a lot for her to get to where she is, and she did it through her compassion and willingness to interact with others.

I don’t consider myself to be an expert on politics, but I think that it’s important to remember that we are more alike than we are different. I’ve recently been having close interactions with someone who is the total opposite of the political spectrum from me, and openly espouses positions that I find appalling. We’re stuck together for the time being, for a variety of reasons, so how would you handle that? I’ve chosen to focus on the common good here: the things we both agree need to be held dear. You can’t change hearts until you’ve changed minds, and to do that, we need to focus on building relationships.

Tell me about a time you took the high road and built a relationship in a tough place.

Until next time!

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