In light of the violent conflict that is devastating so many regions of our world, we call to your attention one of our guiding principles that helps to shape our communication with one another within URI and with others around us:
Principle 5 of URI’s Charter states, “We listen and speak with respect to deepen mutual understanding and trust.”
Living into this principle is a hallmark of URI and one of the most powerful examples of the peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings for which we strive. It is also especially challenging in moments of violent conflict such as that in the Middle East. The horrors and pain of such violence challenge our resolve to practice non-violent communication as well as non-violent action with one another. Only through the practice of non-violence in our words and actions can we create spaces of honest and open dialogue that invite connection rather than alienation. The practice of non-violence shapes spaces in which pain and anger can be shared amongst others who have made a commitment to maintaining respectful relationships.
One of URI’s guiding statements calls us to the "maintaining of respectful spaces" in our relationships. It reads as follows,
“URI is by intention a community of great diversity, including diversity of perspectives on a wide range of global, regional and local issues. We believe that this diversity of perspectives has the potential to deepen our understanding and lead to shared insight and wisdom. For this to happen, members of the URI community must do our best, individually and collectively, to create and maintain a respectful space for diverse points of view, especially minority points of view, in free and open dialogue.
Whether we are engaged in deliberations on the Global Council, Regional Leadership Teams, Global Staff, within a Cooperation Circle or on the CC contacts listserv (and on social media forums such as Facebook or Twitter), it is important to be guided by Principle 5 of our PPPs. It is important to ask – before we speak or write – if we are expressing our opinion in a way that is both true to our experience and what we believe, and also invites opinions from others who have different experiences and beliefs.
We should take special care, especially when addressing a volatile issue, to communicate strongly held beliefs and opinions in language whose tone and content is respectful of members in URI’s community with different beliefs and opinions.”
This guiding statement in no way is meant to constrain the free and open exchange of ideas that is so important to the life of our community and the world. Rather, it is meant to offer guidance, particularly in times of conflict, to help us stay true to URI’s values to which we have committed ourselves.
May we continue to strive to live the PPPs of URI in all that we say and all that we do.
In peace...Kiran and Victor