Cultural Confluence

We need a cultural movement, a movement that actively invites involvement from all cultural groups, and asks only that everyone agree to make an attempt to get to know and work with others they may not completely agree with in order to promote values they do agree with. In addition to bringing groups of people together, an almost more important goal should be to bring individuals together. Venues should be created for not only group interaction, but personal interaction. The more people who see each other as different are able to get to know each other, the more they will see each other as similar. Taking advantage of every cultural tool available, this movement will actively engage in creating a new paradigm, a new and better way of living with each other and caring about one another.

The foundation of this cultural movement must be the same values as the goals for the future. If the movement wants a peaceful future, the movement must be peaceful; if the movement wants respect for all people, the movement must respect all people; if the movement wants a world that embraces and values diversity, the movement must embrace and value diversity; and so forth.

To clarify, the goal is not to create a mass organization with a set of bylaws and standard operating procedures and all that, but a cultural movement without any written rules as to how its “members” must operate. If people without a strong history of cooperation can come together and agree to do anything, then we have made the world a little better. If they have gotten to know each other better in the process, then we have the made the world a little more understanding. If they have learned that they are more similar than previously thought, then we have brought the world closer together and decreased at least some of the potential for future conflict in general. The extreme flexibility required for this process to freely play itself out will only be restricted and undermined by the establishment of any rules for this movement.

Initial efforts should focus exclusively on bringing people together. A handful of individuals could kick start this process, but the real potential, genius and creativity of the movement will not begin to emerge until a critical mass of diversity is reached. The general idea is to create opportunities to get to know each other and continue doing so for as long as it takes for areas of consensus to begin surfacing. These opportunities can and should range from highly structured and focused collaborative workshops to relaxed and informal friendly get-togethers. These opportunities should eventually exist at the local, regional, national and inter-national levels. This protracted effort to bring people together should never be considered a strategy to an end; it is essentially the end itself and therefore the most logical place to begin, and as such should continue long into whatever new world it helps to create.

In most cases it will likely make more sense to start at the friendly, relaxed stage. Get people together for lunches, picnics, pot lucks, and organize activities designed to get people talking about themselves. Not about their jobs, their politics or their designs on life, but about our families, our upbringings, our lives, our selves. As has been done for centuries (often times for the worse), the first thing an outsider must do when approaching another group is to establish contact with an insider. However dry and impersonal that sounds, the invitation should clearly reflect the agenda-less nature of the effort and emphasize that we just want to get to know each other better. If anything more can and does come of it, so much for the better. These may be contacts that already exist, or new invitations may be in order. If relationships already exist, then start with those and continue reaching out to include more people. As difficult as it may sometimes seem, invitations between groups that may be in some kind of conflict might be appropriate as well.

Eventually, if and when areas of consensus are identified, discussed and ironed out, people should begin taking concerted action. What these actions will look like is impossible to imagine in detail at this point, but they will incorporate the ideas and concerns of everyone involved. They will benefit from the imaginations and capabilities of everyone involved. They will embody the values that have been agreed to by diverse people, but their numerous strategies and nuances will be tailored to reach out to, involve, benefit and/or inspire any number of diverse groups. At this point, the fact that people have come together will be our strongest card to play. The key is to show that people who might otherwise disagree are working together and accomplishing things. It won’t do to just have the groups already working together or whose alliances are more obvious and whose causes are more isolatable. We must demonstrate our diversity in all actions. Our unlikely alliances are part of the message: we don’t have to agree on everything, another way is possible, and we are doing our best to make it happen now.