I PLEDGE TO LISTEN TO YOU. WILL YOU LISTEN TO ME?
I pledge not to demonize anyone who holds certain opinions, views or beliefs, but instead will try to understand their reasons and their arguments and express my own views in return. That’s it.
Inspired by the documentary Free Trip to Egypt, the pledge to listen is a rallying cry for people of different backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs to come together, not with the intent to argue or persuade, but to listen and understand.
In the movie, Tarek Mounib recruits a group of people of varying beliefs and backgrounds to go on a trip to Egypt. Disturbed by the increasing disconnect and polarization among people, Tarek wonders if a journey together to a new—and for some, frightening—place might build relationships and encourage people to look more at what holds us together than what separates us.
Tarek gathers a diverse group of travelers—a police officer, a teacher, a veteran, a mom, a pageant queen, and a pastor— and offers each of them a free trip to Egypt.
Once in Egypt, Tarek’s travelers are partnered with Egyptian individuals or families, with the intent of seeing if kindness and relationship could overcome hostility and division. The travelers were hesitant at first, but as they sat and talked and ate with their Egyptian friends, they began to see how alike they really were.
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As they became more comfortable with each other, they began to share deep, personal stories, stories of significance and pain. It suddenly didn’t matter that they didn’t believe the same things or eat the same foods or wear the same clothes.
It mattered that they listened.
That they sat together in the pain.
There was empathy and understanding. There was connection and relationship.
We don’t have to travel to Egypt in order to pledge to listen. We can start in our own communities, our neighborhoods. We might even need to start in our own houses.
Not to persuade. Not to argue. Not to change.
To understand. To connect. To love.