What do we do next?

Two men reaching connection across a chasmThis has been an unbelievably weird, wild, difficult year.

An unprecedented number of catastrophic, profoundly painful events have caused immense loss and suffering for a tremendous number of people across the United States and around the world.

Parallel to these in-the-moment events are revelations of long-ongoing acts of harassment and violence against various groups of people deemed “not like us” and/or “okay to harass” by the perpetrators.

What do we do next?

We are deeply divided over this question. There are so many conflicting answers that finding a way forward seems almost impossibly confusing … and maybe just plain impossible.

But I believe that there is an answer: a single, primary, strategic answer that must come first, before any tactical efforts.

We have to have better conversations.

We have to learn how to talk to and listen to each other.

Even when – especially when – we’re talking across deep divisions and disagreement.

I learned a new concept today: conflict transformation.

Conflict transformation is about creating deeper understanding. It requires perspective-taking. As a result it enables greater connection, whether or not there is agreement.

~ Dr. Michelle Buck, quoted in Brené Brown’s latest book Braving the Wilderness.

What if, through better conversations, we could transform conflict into … something else?

It can be done. It is being done. Here’s one example of how better conversations changed a community in Montana.