Of all the forces shaping politics and power around the world, perhaps none are more important than our sense of who we are, and who we are becoming.
We are in a period of accelerated change in at least four areas—globalization, technology, the environment, and demographic change.
We can only process so much change in a short period of time without experiencing anxiety, which is a normal biological reaction. But how we respond to this anxiety is social.
Our response is greatly shaped by the stories presented by leadership and through culture.
These stories speak to our deepest values and our core beliefs about who we are—many of which operate at the subconscious level.
We can respond to these changes either as a threat or as an opportunity. The first response is breaking, the latter is bridging.
Breaking can create a deep fear of other groups, making it easier to accept false stories of “us vs. them.”
Breaking perpetuates isolation, hardens racism, and builds oppressive systems—while driving our politics and institutions toward anti-democratic and inhumane practices.
The other response is bridging, which calls on us to imagine a larger, more inclusive “we.”
When we bridge, we see demographic change and our diverse identities as positive and enhancing who we are.
Bridging calls on us to engage in healthy dialogue and requires us to listen deeply.
Bridging does not mean abandoning your identity.
Bridging means acknowledging our shared humanity, rejecting that there is a “them,” and moving towards a future where there is instead a new “us.”
For when we bridge, we not only open up to others, we also open up to change within ourselves – where we can participate in creating a society built on belonging.