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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Respectful exploration

I believe forgiveness and humility grant us the freedom to be who we really are. If we can authentically lower our defenses and acknowledge other points of view, we have the opportunity to learn from each other and to grow as individuals.

This is not about surrendering one's beliefs in the face of another's. It's about peacefully engaging each other in dialogue instead of insisting that a single viewpoint is the only possible solution. It is an acknowledgment that no single person or organization has a stranglehold on wisdom.

I'm encouraged to see Lipscomb University exploring this path with their recently established Institute of Conflict Management. The organization discussed religious conflict earlier this fall and will focus on capital punishment in January. Here's an excerpt from today's Tennessean story about the institute:

Larry Bridgesmith [executive director for the institute] acknowledges that there is a risk that the conservative Christian university may alienate some members of its own community and others outside it by taking on such divisive issues. But, he said, if the institute is successful, it will be a good faith, respectful exploration of interests that all sides share and will help people deal better with conflict.
I think we could all benefit from an increased focus on "respectful exploration." Best wishes to Mr. Bridgesmith and this effort.

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