Vive la Difference
Befriend the Other

For the First Earth Run to succeed many people of different cultures, races, religions, and political ideologies had to work together. This was not easy because our differences at times caused us to clash. The simple act of organizing a torch ceremony in each country was such an experience. The Japanese wanted it highly choreographed, the Africans wanted it celebratory and more spontaneous, and for the Russians and Chinese it was quite political. I had to expand beyond how I thought it should be and enter into each of these cultures with an open mind. Each time I was willing to enlarge my way of thinking and doing things, I felt myself evolving as a human being.

I also discovered that although there were differences, there were also similarities. We each wanted to make a contribution with our lives. We each wanted to create a better future for the children of the world. We each were excited by the possibility to do something important. In the end, it was learning how to combine our differences and similarities that allowed us to succeed.

Our world needs many signing up for the great adventure of learning from each other. For the human experiment to thrive, it will require us to stretch beyond our comfort zones. We may not always agree with a person’s thinking or approach to life, but we and the world will get bigger through the effort.

This simple and profound action invites you to befriend and learn from the people who are different from you. Look for them throughout your life: they live your block, you work with them, they are in your community, they show up in your email inbox, and if you are more adventurous, they live all over the planet. Take this action with a group of people you would like to spend more time with such as friends, neighbors or a faith-based group. Five to eight people is a good size as it allows for more intimate sharing.

Invite these individuals to your home to view and discuss the First Earth Run video.
Having shown this video to thousands of people over the years it is catalytic. It brings to the surface one’s hope and dreams for the world. It rekindles a person’s idealism that may have gotten buried under the busyness of life. It provides the rare experience of our shared humanity. And for some, it puts them in touch with their despair about the world and belief that they can’t do anything to make it better.

After viewing the video, invite people to share how it made them feel. This is a rich process and will surface the feelings above. Then help them translate this opening into action by asking them these three questions: What can I do in my life to befriend and learn from those who are different from me? What might happen if many people took this action all around the world? What commitment am I willing to make to act on these insights?

When everyone has finished writing, invite each person to talk about what they wrote. After all have spoken, ask them to share with the group what they learned. Then inquire if the group would like to take this further by scheduling a time to meet every month or two to discuss what everyone is learning and provide one another support. We call these support groups “Field Unifying Nodes” or FUN for short. Imagine FUN breaking out all over the planet. Imagine you and your friends being at the epicenter of peace on earth. Imagine yourself creating this future for our world.

Action 4