Our country is divided and has been for quite some time, and I feel caught in the divide more than ever before. As I watch, read, and listen to every force that yearns to separate us, I wonder, “How can I look a friend in the eye knowing that they support politicians and policies that target me? How can I trust them? Why should I even make the effort to trust them?”
Taking these questions, feelings, and concerns into account, I know that we are better together on equal terms, even if that means we have to work harder than we ever have to see each other’s humanity. Following through on this commitment, my role as an Ambassador with Millions of Conversations is to help build systems and design mechanisms that transcend dangerous divides between us. By fostering a community that is “bully-free,” I’ve made a commitment to myself and to our community to champion an environment where every human being is supported to realize their full positive potential. Knowing that I want to feel respected and fully acknowledged as a human being, I know that at the heart of it all, we want the same thing – dignity.
Taking this into consideration, when I disagree with someone, I always try to see their soul. And I work with people to cease using labels that have been designed to bully and stigmatize “the other.” This month, I urge us all to resist using labels. Instead, I challenge all of us to use language that encourages us to speak the truth through words that unite rather than divide.
In the spirit of this challenge, I encourage each of you to become a Conversationalist with Millions of Conversations – a new program we are launching to build bridges across the current divide. Sit down with someone with whom you disagree, and speak openly with the intent to mutually understand both your differences and your commonly shared principles, values, and experiences. Speak from your common humanity. We may not change each other’s minds, but we may have a clearer picture of one another, and that is the key to fostering an environment that builds rather than destroys.
Fatima Hassan Ali
Continuing the Conversation
Common Humanity Video
Please join us in watching and sharing our new video series, “Belonging in America.” We have been working on this project with director Michael Collins for the past year, and this video featuring Ambassador Mohamed-Shukri Hassan is the first in the collection. Please watch and listen as Mohamed explains how he finds common humanity through belonging and building community in his everyday interactions. Please post, tweet, or share the above video with our pledge. Let’s come together and transcend divides!
This election year, let us strive to stay away from “othering” and dangerous disinformation efforts that seek to divide us. Our election in America is about us, all of us. Let’s keep it that way.
Do you want to be more involved with Millions?
Become a Conversationalist
We are excited to announce our latest program! Coupled with our strong Ambassador cohort, we are looking for individuals who are passionate about Millions and would like to lead through dialogue. As a Conversationalist, you will learn the best tactics for open, honest conversations and push yourself to engage in three personal conversations once a month. You will share what you learn with Millions and the Conversations cohort. You will also train to host group conversations in your own community to help spread the Millions message. Please click on the photo above or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!
“Don’t Hang Out With Mean People”
We are thrilled to share Ambassador Maysoon Zayid’s recent interview with Salon. Maysoon explains why civil rights and violence against women are the most important issues to her today. Maysoon speaks out for her beliefs everyday, and she inspires us to do so as well.
Dialoguing for Unity
Vanderbilt’s 2020 Social Venture Summit: “Creating Ecosystems of Support”
Earlier this month, Samar Ali had the opportunity to participate in a panel on seeking justice and common ground at Vanderbilt’s Turner Family Center for Social Values. She used conversation to put Millions’ values into action throughout the day and formed strong partnerships with other leaders working for change.
AllianceBernstein: Global Day of Understanding
AllianceBernstein invited Millions of Conversations to lead a workshop for executive leaders on seeking interpersonal understanding in their everyday interactions. Participants transcended divides by engaging with scenarios that asked them to see political disputes from a new perspective.
Islamic Center of Nashville: Creating a Legacy of Education – Honoring Muhammad Ali and David Williams
The Islamic Center of Nashville honored the late Vanderbilt Athletics Director David Williams, calling on athletes who had been close with Williams to testify to his positive impact on their lives. David Williams leaves a legacy that will stay with our community for years to come, and we look up to him as a model for leadership and change.
Faith and Culture Center: Faith Over Fear
Join us this coming Friday and Saturday (February 28th and 29th) at the Faith and Culture Center’s Faith Over Fear dinner and workshop. Samar Ali will participate as one of the keynote speakers, and other ambassadors and community members from across Nashville will be present as well. Tickets for dinner and panel discussions are $20, and you can purchase them online. We would love to see you there!
On Our List
Michael Signer’s Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Seige
Join us in pre-ordering Michael Signer’s latest book! Mayor Signer is a friend and supporter of Millions, and we appreciate his insightful analysis of extremism in America. Through his firsthand experiences as the former mayor of Charlottesville, Mayor Signer gained a unique insight into the terror and mayhem of the August 2017 “Unite the Right” event. He uses this perspective to address how extremism threatens every aspect of American life and provides insight into how we can prevent future cycles of hate and violence in America today. You can click on the above photo to pre-order this important work.
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