I was recently speaking with a friend from Utah who is a practicing member of the Mormon faith. She had been asked by people close to her how her values align to the things I speak about. We both share a passion for ending homelessness. We both believe that we should be driven by data. We both see merits in following practices that are proven to work rather than hunches or anecdotes.
Yes, I drop the F bomb (from time to time). Yes, I engage in other practices (like prolific caffeine consumption) that are contrary to how she lives her life on a personal level.
Are the ideas we share aligned? Yes.
And it turns out we can share a meal, talk about our families, share knowledge and genuinely support each other in the work of ending homelessness.
The Canadian election recently happened. Only recently did I discover that someone on my staff is Conservative. Conservative!!! Many of my personal beliefs and values are contrary to those of the Conservative Party of Canada. And yet, I will keep this person on my staff forever if they so desire.
Are the ideas we share on ending homelessness aligned? Yes.
I think too often we get stuck on religion or politics or life experiences and avoid the discussion of alignment. We are so caught up in differences and the language and divisiveness of those discussions that we fail to focus first on what we have in common. Or we resort to labels rather than seeing the person.
As we work through resolutions of complex social issues, I fail to accept that any one religion or political party has all things completely figured out. It is our collective impact that matters most.
My friend from Utah understands that many people live their life different from the teachings of the LDS Church. My staff understands that many people may benefit from the likes of safe injection sites, which the Conservatives reject. But both are amazing people – and only small examples – that there is more amazing strengths to be found within the people that you may claim are working against you, if we get to know them. Great ideas know no boundaries of religion or political ideology when you get to the root of the people that align themselves with those beliefs.