Thank You for Choosing to Love Anyway in Your Communities

Gathering with loved ones and friends isn’t always smooth sailing. There are calendars to coordinate, recipes to hunt down, and dietary requirements to consider. But when we finally come together, sharing one another’s company in real life, we are reminded of the real human connections we have. 

Whether we realize it or not, we all strive for connection. As divisions across the US and the world deepen, our community of peacebuilders is fostering peace in their own lives and communities by investing in existing connections and sparking new ones when they participate in our Love Anyway Feasts

During the Love Anyway Feasts held to celebrate our diversity as 2023 ended, our community of peacebuilders took part in guided conversations, explored different viewpoints, and had fun over an amazing meal. Our easy-to-use conversation starters give us the tools to reach a shared understanding built on empathy and active listening. Thanks to all who hosted a Love Anyway Feast of their own. We applaud your courage to embrace vulnerability and one another’s differences.

“It’s easy to fear what you don’t understand. It’s harder to fear something that you know, someone that has a face, a personality. Once you see people for people as opposed to a label, then it makes peace easier,” said Julie, one of our supporters who hosted her own Love Anyway feast. As this was her first time hosting a feast, Julie wanted this gathering to put people at ease, build trust, and show that embracing our differences and loving anyway isn’t a sprint. It takes time.

“People are so insulated in their own little bubbles […] it can create, you know, entrenched values and ideas that are not open to anything else, and whatever I have is right, and whatever you have is wrong.” To go beyond the binary of seeing things as right or wrong, Julie knew she had to take a step out of her comfort zone, and she asked her guests to do the same, encouraging them to extend the invitation to their friends. What ensued was an event filled with spirited chatter, warm introductions, and a tangible feeling of tenderness. 

As the US becomes increasingly polarized, standing up to othering is vital. Saadia Qureshi, Senior Officer for Community Engagement and Trainings at Common Ground USA, reaffirms the importance of having dialogues with those who think differently from us to prevent polarization from provoking violence. “If we’re not talking to each other, we’re not solving any problems right. We’re only talking to ourselves. We’re going to create bigger problems than the ones we have already.” 

As the host of her own recent Love Anyway Feast, Saadia recalls how her guests’ openness and authenticity warmed her heart. She saw the impact of this simple yet meaningful gathering, which provided people a space to listen, to be heard, and to understand. As friends and friends of friends walked in, Saadia reflected on how fun it was to have people whom she had never met before and who were from different backgrounds be a part of her gathering.

Using the feast agenda, both Saadia and Julie reviewed the ground rules for the evening. They explained that their respective groups had not come together to confront or convert one another. Instead, the feast was an opportunity to compassionately listen, learn, and love anyway. The feast was an open and honest space where people could afford to be wrong. Saadia highlighted that getting it wrong creates opportunities to get closer, to apologize, and “to admit we’re human and we’re trying to do this thing {the best we can with what we have].”
Recognizing that everyone has their own challenges, Julie and Saadia choose to love anyway, no matter what a person’s background or belief system is. Loving anyway is an essential early step in healing so that peace can take root and flourish. We thank everyone who took part in our Love Anyway Feast. Thank you for choosing to relentlessly humanize instead of othering. If you’d like to get involved, click this link: