We are not going to find one big button to fix the internet and social media. There is not one big lever that will heal our loneliness and restore our trust in each other, in our democracy, and in our selves. While social media companies need to make some technical changes to reduce the amount of anonymous slander that contributes to violence, there is no quick fix for the profound loss of trust we are experiencing. Societies run on trust. When the trust gets below a certain level the society itself is at risk.

Of course it is natural for us to want a quick, technical fix. Especially one that doesn’t require our ongoing attention and effort. But since there isn’t one, we need a strategy that can work in every community. To develop a strategy, we must think about

  • what our assets are
  • what is sustainable
  • what is meaningful and joyful.

There are communities of wisdom in every town, city, and neighborhood. They know something needs to be done to rebuild the trust within their community. They have relationships with other leaders and social capital to spend with the larger community. Further, they know some of the needs of their community. Imagine what would happen if diverse communities of wisdom in many towns, cities, and neighborhoods met three times a year to engage our Let’s Go Together Strategy:

  • Eat, play, and share stories together
  • Do a service project together
  • Show up in public spaces together

Imagine what would happen when each participant shares the experience with 20 people. Imagine the waves of hope and trust that would ripple out from these simple, repeatable, and powerful events. To help this happen, PTU will

  • Lift up this vision
  • Prepare communities of wisdom
  • Consult about how to show up in public together.

We believe that local, wide-spread, face-to-face relationships, work for the common good, and public solidarity is more powerful than dehumanizing memes, statements from politicians, and certain media outlets.

If the problem is our loneliness and loss of trust, how could anything else work but our knowing each other and working for our common good?

Preparation is key to this. PTU is creating resources to help prepare Christian communities for these partnerships. We want members of congregations to be able to answer the question they will inevitably be asked, in their quilting group, at the golf club, or over a beer with friends: “Why are you doing things with those people?” We will help them get clear about their personal Why, the Why rooted in the Christian tradition, and our Why as Americans. There are many powerful reasons for standing and working together with people of diverse traditions and cultures.

We feel it is most important to begin this work with Christian communities in the locations where they are the majority and may struggle to form authentic relationships with other traditions. After this phase, we will expand our program to offer similar resources for many other communities of wisdom.

Imagine how good it would feel for communities of wisdom to find a meaningful mission, a manageable and powerful strategy that addresses the peril we all feel. They will be drawn further into their own tradition and further into relationship with their diverse neighbors. This can lead to a renewal of our neighborhoods and a renewal of each wisdom tradition.


Wisdom Tradition: A set of remembered stories, deep truths, probing questions and a capacity for self-critique exploring how human beings can live with meaning, community and care for the earth. These include Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Indigenous, agnostic, atheist and humanist and many other traditions.
Communities of Wisdom: Local or regional groups gathered around a particular wisdom tradition.

 

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash