We want the angry rhetoric to change, and are willing to do our part to bring about that change -but how? It seems too overwhelming to overcome.
Well, you know how you eat an elephant – one bite at a time? We believe we can overcome our hostility one conversation at a time.
Not talking about issues, but talking about who we are as individuals, beyond our political labels . . .
I am so much more than my political opinions– we all are.
I am a female, a Giants fan, a dancer, I love books, I’m a northeasterner at heart, a grandparent . . .
Some of my identities overlap with some of yours. Where our identities overlap is a patch of common ground – a small patch on which we can stand and talk awhile.
Common ground is the ideal entry point for comfortable, relationship-building conversations, for sharing those life experiences that have formed who we are today.
We have facilitated what we call Compassionate Listening sessions for many years. It never ceases to amaze us how bonds of respect and trust are forged between perfect strangers from just 20 minutes of sharing of story and deep listening. Enough respect and trust to want to keep talking.
Being seen and heard by another is powerful.
Conflict transforms into mutual understanding and understanding leads to caring. From that caring place you can venture into discussing the difficult issues.
Our purpose in Let’s Keep Talking is to provide a safe, sociable, structured way to connect with some community neighbors. To learn about each other below the superficial level, to build relationship.
We hope your experience will be meaningful enough that it emboldens you to come to the next Let’s Keep Talking event and invite others to join you – perhaps people you have differences with.
A growing web of people coming together creating bonds of respect and trust is exactly how our community and our country will begin to bridge its wide divide.
The shortest distance between two people is Story.
- Pam and Charley Rogers, "Let's Keep Talking" Facilitators
We, the undersigned supporting houses of worship, individuals and community groups, reach out to you in the spirit of kindness and cooperation with a heartfelt shared concern. Like many of our neighbors, we are alarmed and disheartened by the rise of angry rhetoric, the increase in hostility that is sweeping across our country and landing in our own backyards.
We believe we must seek to nurture quality, mutually respectful dialogue between our fellow citizens. Our common good depends upon just such dialogues. To put it simply, “We need to change how we see and talk to each other.”
Who better to model and motivate such a change than religious and community leaders? Therefore, we are proposing that congregations of all faiths and neighbors of all political persuasions unite under the banner of the Golden Rule, a principle held at the heart of many faiths and cultures, and one, when applied, will bring dignity and respect to our interactions.
Our theme for this initiative is: With Malice Toward None . . .Live the Golden Rule. Our vision is for western North Carolina neighbors to creatively engage in actions around this theme in houses of worship and in the public square.
Of course, we hope this theme, originally initiated during the 2020 election season, can gather momentum through further messaging and actions. We would welcome your ideas of how to make that happen. There is an abundance of resources we invite you to explore on this general topic, including www.goldenrule2020.org , www.compassion2020.com, and www.braverangels.org. Several faith communities have developed their own initiatives, including one from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, www.wearesaltandlight.org/civilize-it.
We hope you will join in this effort!
Please stand with us in this appeal to hold our differences with hospitality instead of hostility. America was founded on the radical premise that conflict, rightly held, is the engine, not the enemy of a better social order. Together,
we can act on that premise and rebuild a civil civic community.
To co-sign this letter, lend your partnership in and/or ask questions about the With Malice Toward None - Live the Golden Rule outreach, please use the link below or go to our "Contact' page. We look forward to a robust, honest and fruitful sharing of ideas, energies and possible future mutual projects.
Faithfully and respectfully,
WNC Live the Golden Rule Planning Group
(original letter October 15, 2020; revised November 11, 2020)
CO-SIGNERS (as of February 23, 2021):
Rev. Karla Miller, Pastor
Mark Acker, Minister of Music, Pastoral Associate
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Hendersonville
Rev. Dr. Joan Saniuk, Pastor
Sacred Journey Metropolitan Community Church, Hendersonville
Venerable Dr. Pannavati, Theri Abbess, Sister Clear Grace, Prioress
Embracing Simplicity Hermitage Heartwood Refuge, Hendersonville
Rev. Karen Easter-Bayne, Lead Pastor
First United Methodist Church, Hendersonville
Rev. Darlene Strickland
Rev. Christy Corna
Unity of the Blue Ridge, Mills River
Ms. Janet O’Brien
Mr. Richard Zelman
Brevard Friends Meeting
Rev. Josh Stephens, Rector
The Episcopal Church of St. John in the Wilderness, Flat Rock
Rev. Mark Stanley, Pastor and Head of Staff
Trinity Presbyterian Church, Hendersonville
Jeremy Morris, Pastor, Hope United Methodist Church, Flat Rock / Missions Pastor, Hendersonville First United Methodist Church
Rev. Meghan Young, Senior Pastor
The Congregational Church - UCC, Tryon
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Swannanoa Valley
Susan Zelle, Board President
Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County
Rev. Don Rollins, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville
Rev. Rob Field, Director
Center for Spiritual Wisdom, Brevard
Progressive Alliance of Henderson County
Pisgah Legal Services
David C. Joyce, President, Brevard College, Brevard
Helen Bishop, Etowah
Sheila Clendenning, Flat Rock
Pam and Charley Rogers, Hendersonville
Pat and Ed Argue, Hendersonville
Bob McLendon, Hendersonville
Maralee McMillan, Flat Rock
Hon. Barbara Volk, Hendersonville
Padma Dyvine, Bat Cave
Vicki Dunning Howe, Hendersonville
Amy Ross, Hendersonville
David LaMotte, Black Mountain
Josh Bledsoe, Hendersonville
Laura Miklowitz, Hendersonville
Carter Heyward, Brevard
Bruce Mills and Jim Hollingsworth, Hendersonville
Cary Battle, Hendersonville
Jeannie and Milton Stewart, Flat Rock
Carol Woeppel, Flat Rock
Cynthia Easterling, Zirconia
Richard T. Zecher, Flat Rockin memory of Jane Zecher
Charlotte Shipley, Hendersonville
Elizabeth Kamis, Hendersonville
Shirley Worth Bodie
Ronald and Paula Bakule
Lyndsey Simpson, Hendersonville
Bruce Jayne, Saluda
Rabbi Philip J. Bentley, Hendersonville
Quim and Sharon Moya, Brevard
Kent Sampson, Flat Rock
Norm Bossert, Brevard
Elizabeth A. Christenbury
Denise L. Medved, Hendersonville
Peggy and Ed Law, Hendersonville
Ed and Romella O'keefe, Mills River
Tom and Judy Lutzenberger
Ericka and Mark Fagerlin, Hendersonville
Phil Taylor, Laurel Park
Larry Winecoff, Hendersonville
Rev. Karen Appleby
Janet Lienberger, Flat Rock
Lois Roach, Flat Rock
Don and Coleen Kerr, Flat Rock
Catherine Lynch, Hendersonville
Kate Fisher, Hendersonville
Ferebe Watson Conchar
Aklea L. Althoff
Stacey and Brian Caskey, Mills River
Nolleen Kelly and Bal Goleman, Hendersonville
Dede Walton, Hendersonville
Gary Cyphers, Hendersonville
Donna and Glenn Gross, Flat Rock
Linda Simpson, Hendersonville
Margaret and Richard Masarik, Flat Rock
Mary Pamela Porath
Dawn Kucera, Hendersonville
Jackie Weedon, Tryon
Jack and Linda Grup, Flat Rock
Kim M. Klusza
Gale Tolan, Flat Rock
Linda Laderach, Hendersonville
Professor Emerita, Mt. Holyoke College
William Shaffer, Hendersonville
Richard and Mary Kownacki
Rev. DeBorah L. Ogiste
Opal and Ron Brass, Flat Rock
Rev. Dr. Stephen Ray, retired
Susan Enwright Hicks
Spence M. Foscue
Rev. Dr. Kathleen Kircher
Ann Twiggs, Hendersonville
Lucy Butler, Hendersonville
Steven Houseworth, Horse Shoe
Angela Leigh Tucker
Hon. Rod Whiteside, Fletcher
Sharon Buck Pearson
Connie Knight, Hendersonville
Blair Trigg Jenkins
Lou Lieb, Asheville
Tom Daily, Asheville
Patricia Bares, Saluda
Jennifer Migliore, Flat Rock
Barbara Hodik, Flat Rock
Truitt & Zachary Culbreth, Hendersonville
Dick Weaver, Hendersonville
Jin Adams Parker