Building A Culture of Connection, Culture, and Belonging
No matter who we are, how we live, or what we believe, we all share a deep, instinctual need and capacity for human connection and belonging. It’s at the core of our shared humanity — and baked into our DNA.
As human beings, we yearn to be in relationship: to feel seen, valued, and understood; to inhabit places where we live together, work together and look out for each other; to be part of a community of shared values and aspirations that is bigger than ourselves.
And yet, we are living in a culture that all too often reinforces just the opposite. A culture that stokes distrust and amplifies divisions. That fuels hyper-individualism and alienates us from ourselves and each other. A culture that creates a distorted sense of belonging for some of us by telling others they don’t belong.
As we navigate the “twin pandemics” of COVID-19 and racial injustice, we face a fundamental challenge that lies at the heart of all others: a crisis of human connection.
All around us, we see more and more Americans living in isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and fear. And all too often, our culture reinforces a zero-sum game that seeks to benefit by pulling us further apart — with an “us vs them” mentality that’s eroding our faith in each other, our institutions, and the future we seek for our children.
The sheer speed and scale of these challenges can seem overwhelming, but beneath them lies a simple and inescapable truth: we cannot solve our nation’s most complex and urgent challenges unless we see, hear and understand each other first.
If we want to build it back better, we must draw upon one of the greatest and oldest technologies we have as a species: human connection. Our ability to connect, empathize, build relationships, and collaborate may be our greatest gift. When we start to see ourselves in others and recognize that our own humanity is a reflection of our shared humanity, we begin to shift from a culture of turning on one another to turning toward one another.