curiosity over assumptions

In recent months I’ve begun listening to podcasts from Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett. Produced through American Public Media, Speaking of Faith is a weekly radio program discussing topics in “religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas.” In exploring the various topics, each episode attempts to tell the stories behind the ideas. Each program, then, “takes a narrative, or first-person, approach to religious and philosophical conversation (and) draws out the intersection of theology and human experience, of grand religious ideas and real life.”

As I prepared for my participation in the Living Library (see here), a recent Speaking of Faith episode caught my attention. Titled “Curiosity Over Assumption – Interreligiosity Meets a New Generation,” the program introduced the Muslim-Jewish relationship of two young women in Los Angeles. While openly admitting their differences – differences that have the Middle East mired in violence – these women are determined to seek peace not violence. And they do this in the simplest fashion – they spend time together and they listen to each other’s stories. Simple, yet radical, these women are “innovating templates of practical relationship that work with reality, acknowledge questions and conflict, yet resolve not to be enemies – whatever the political future of the Middle East may hold.”

Through the story of these women, I’m reminded (chided?) that engaging our differences requires humility and honesty. Conveyed in the phrase “curiosity over assumptions,” humility shelves our own preconceptions about others and their ideas until we’ve let them tell their story. And honesty is an important companion to humility. It acknowledges that humility doesn’t always mean agreement. In fact, the women readily admit that “dialogue is messy.” There are no easy ‘lets-just-get-along’ answers.

And so I'm inspired that even amidst the stark differences in our world, humble and honest dialogue can bring hope to our conflicts – a hope that in our curiosity we’ll find peace.

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