As our nation remains divided on many issues, Sister Valerie Zottola offers thoughtful suggestions for beginning a dialogue about emotional policies. As volunteer coordinator at Casa San José, Sister Valerie originally emailed this note to the organization’s ‘Friends and Amigas’ in response to the separation of families at our border, but her advice to listen and respect one another remains relevant no matter the policy or stance.
If you know of someone — just one person — who is in support of this policy; invite them into a conversation with you about it, perhaps over a cup of coffee or tea.
- Pray for the grace to be respectful and open.
- LISTEN without trying to build up defensive arguments against any of the points they are making, trying to understand their point of view. This will not be easy.
- RESPECT the person; pay more attention to the “person” than to what they are saying. And, then, of course, share your point of view.
You may or may not be able to do this, especially in such an emotionally charged time; but if you are, it could be a significant step in trying to build understanding and mutual respect. . . putting one more building block in that bridge that so divides us, as a country.
Don’t feel discouraged if you leave with no resolution. Try your best, though, to leave with mutual respect. Oftentimes, such conversations are only the “beginning” in transforming one’s thinking; the planting of seeds, that only God knows how/when they will flower.
Once again, IF you feel able to do this, it could be valuable; but don’t hesitate to admit to yourself, that right now may not be the best time for you to engage in such a conversation.
“You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those persecuting…” -Matthew 5: 43-44
If you are interested in learning more about the work of Casa San José we invite you to view this film by Nick Schapiro that highlights the organization’s outreach to Pittsburgh’s Latino community.