I remember the Vietnamese spiritual teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, right after 9/11, speaking in New York City. Somebody asked him what would he do if he was able to meet with Osama bin Laden. He said, “If he had his choice, he would sit down and listen to what Osama bin Laden had to say, so that he could hear his perspective and his motivation.” That’s a profound response.

It is this kind of dialogue that’s so important in this new world we occupy. Democracy is rooted in conversation. It’s rooted in the exchange of ideas. It’s rooted in multiple voices. It’s rooted in diversity. It’s rooted in hearing all the different perspectives. That’s what democracy is about. It’s not about one view, or one solitary approach. It’s not about the, “America right, wrong and always” form of patriotism. It’s not about that. It’s about something much deeper, much more precious, even mysterious.

– Michael Toms in an article in powells.com

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