Our world is more connected than ever. Yet if we take stock of our lives, most of us would reach the same conclusion: we are more isolated than ever. Stuck in the confines of our comfort zones.
We’re surrounded mostly by those who look like us, believe the same things, worship the same ways, even vote the same way.
Is it any wonder we’re more distrustful of each other, more likely to build walls out of our differences?
It doesn’t have to be this way.
There is a new kind of community popping up in neighborhoods across the US and Canada—and soon, around the world—where we gather with those who are one or two steps outside our usual circles—to listen and learn from each other. To pursue peace through action together.
“The members of our gathering are starting to meet up without us organizing anything… Being a part of each other’s everyday lives is becoming more and more normal.”
Gatherings have already started in Florida and Georgia and North Carolina, in Iowa and New Brunswick. New gatherings are in the works, too—in Ohio, Arkansas, Maryland, and Edmonton. College gatherings are launching at Indiana University, University of Arkansas, North Carolina State, and Berry College.
Pursue peace through action. around the world, where you live. Join a Love anyway Gathering.
Making Diversity Our New Normal
The genesis for Love Anyway Gathering was a chance encounter between two women, Anna and Saadia, after the 2016 election. Anna is Christian; Saadia is Muslim.
In the years since they first decided to pursue piece together, Anna and Saadia’s group in Orlando has continued to meet—and is growing into a real community.
“The members of our gathering are starting to meet up without us organizing anything,” Anna says. “They are grabbing coffee, having play dates, and celebrating our unique identities. Being a part of each other’s everyday lives is becoming more and more normal.”
Changing the Way We See Each Other
Emily, a member of the Orlando gathering, realized she used to approach those who are different from her as though they needed something from her. But now?
“This group has helped me realize that we need each other. We all bring something different, and valuable, to the table,” she says.
“We may not all look the same or believe all the same things, but we are more alike than we are different. We all have families, we all want to feel safe and loved, we all want to make our world better, and this is only possible in community.”
Finding Unexpected Community
Vjolca came to her first gathering nervous. “I attended with the intention of defending my race, my religion, and my differences that made me a target for negative, hate-charged attention. I wore my hijab like a badge, a testament of my commitment to being who I was, and not conforming to who others wanted me to be.”
But in a living room full of strangers, Vjolca found her faith was not something to be defended, but something to be appreciated and honored. She found unexpected community and healing.
“Preemptive Love embraced me that day. In fact, it embraced us all. It gave us the platform to meet and dialogue and experience each other’s daily struggles, to work together in a world that aimed to separate us.”
Pressing Into the Hardest Conflicts
In Atlanta, a black mother named Renee started gathering with other women of color, who know what it’s like to live in a world that doesn’t value their lives—or the lives of their sons.
Then she went a step further, inviting anyone who wanted to better understand the injustices that people of color face in America.
Renee’s relentless pursuit of peace has a sobering motivation: “We want our sons to come home.”
She’s watched again and again as unarmed black men and boys are gunned down by police. The peace Renee is working for is anything but theoretical. She’s working to save her son’s life, and it’s taken her to the very frontlines of conflict—not to fight back, but to love anyway.
Renee has met with local police, participated in ride-alongs, and even begun laying the groundwork for a new kind of gathering—one for police officers and mothers raising children of color. Their goal is not to engage in superficial “reconciliation” or to ignore all-too-real injustices—but to ask the hard questions, together.
Renee has no illusions about the risk. Nor does she view this kind of gathering as a one-size-fits-all answer to the problem of racism. But she has chosen—for the sake of peace, for the sake of her son—to trust even before it is earned.
“We come from different communities and have different life experiences,” she says. “We have made commitments to choose to trust each other, no matter what our past experiences have been.”
Will it work? We don’t know. But we’ve seen it work before, on the frontlines of some of the world’s biggest conflicts. In Syria. In Iraq. And across North America.
But the world has invested endless amounts in violence, oppression, and war. We believe it’s time to invest in something different, something better.
In communities around the world, in living rooms and kitchen tables, we are building the most diverse community of peacemakers on the planet.