True diplomacy doesn’t happen without extending intentional efforts to connect. The world is made up of opportunities to collide and make grace filled connections. When different worlds can move beyond mere collisions, no longer leading to division and dissension; those very same collisions can be made in to meaningful connections with one another that allow for both parties to be heard as well as experience each other’s world. This is when diplomacy is most present. Worlds that collide and connect can be a very beautiful thing.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
The above quote speaks to what kind of mentality we should have in our approach to diplomacy.
I just watched a remarkable movie over the weekend called The Hundred Foot Journey (the title is symbolic of the distance they have to cross to be a part of each other’s worlds). The movie is about an Indian family from Mumbai who moves to a small village in France in search of place to plant roots and open an Indian restaurant (Yes, in France). The family ends up purchasing a restaurant/home right across from a very famous French restaurant. At first these two families are colliding vehemently, and sometimes violently; their only connection is their dislike for other. However, by midway through the movie they’ve realized their need for each other, that whatever affected one affected them all; their businesses, and their families.
So often we don’t realize our need for others in our diplomacy efforts. We often don’t acknowledge what someone else has to offer us. We approach matters as educators only and not people in need of an education. Our lack of humility will be our downfall. Admitting ignorance is essential to diplomacy, and reflects humility. It says that we are willing to put ourselves in a position to follow, and to be taught (their culture, their way of life; to be Christ incarnate among them). When we follow, allowing ourselves to be taught by someone who may or may not have the same belief system, it changes our perspective. We are no longer enslaved to a single story. In our willingness to follow and be taught; listening and learning opportunities will arise. I’m not saying that we abandon our own beliefs, but that we look for opportunities to listen, and share our beliefs in a way that keeps the conversation going. Of course collisions will happen along the way, but any relationship that’s built on a foundation of mutual respect…where we value the other person as much as we value ourselves and our need to be right, will ultimately end in grace filled connections.
Once we’ve followed, then we’ll earn the right to be teachers, to be diplomats, to go to every nation creating Disciples of Christ, not ourselves. True Diplomacy for Christians stems from a realization that Christ has created us all in his image, and values us all greatly. We know this because he sent his son Jesus to die for all, while we were still soaking in our sins. We all have a value that’s been pre-determined no matter our belief system. Our diplomacy efforts must reflect the value that God has placed on every life. It must take in to account that whatever injustice or hardship that affects the one, does affect all indirectly. We are all connected.