Politics, Vulnerability, and Connection

“Perhaps the only way to survive this crisis, and maybe climate change and socioeconomic disparity, is to start acting as the single species that we are, rather than as the individual tribes or nations that we comprise.”

W. Ford Doolittle, “Could this pandemic usher in evolution’s next major transition?”

I had a one-on-one a couple years ago with a black Baptist pastor who is also a clergy leader with ISAIAH. We had an honest conversation about how race and sexuality, among other things, might have prevented us from being in relationship. He told me, “I need you, because without you, I only know part of the Body of Christ.”

Researcher Brené Brown has described how, as we Americans have increasingly surrounded ourselves with people who share the same political beliefs and shut out people who think differently, we have also begun reporting increased levels of loneliness. At the heart of loneliness, she says, is the absence of meaningful social interaction. She writes, “As members of a social species, we derive strength not from our rugged individualism but from our collective ability to plan, communicate, and work together.”

She goes on to say that holing ourselves up in ideological bunkers shields us from vulnerable encounters, which are actually the very thing that create connection and overcome loneliness. “When we race to our customary defenses–of political belief, race, religion, you name it–we don’t have to worry about being vulnerable or brave or trusting. We just have to toe the party line. Except doing that is not working. Ideological bunkers protect us from everything except loneliness and disconnection.”

I’m convinced that this is work we are called to do—practicing vulnerability, building relationships, overcoming division—and it’s more important today than ever before.

The featured image for this post, “Los Angeles March for Immigrant Rights,” is copyright (c) 2017 Molly Adams and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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