In order to break the cycle of violence in America, we need radical interventions on a personal and political level. Activist professor Angela Davis emphasized, ” ‘Radical’ simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’ ”

Jesus Christ said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.”

More recently, faith leader and civil rights activist Valarie Kaur said, “The choice to love our opponents is moral and pragmatic – and it opens up the previously unimaginable possibility of reconciliation.”

Radically expanding the capacity for compassion and understanding is not a comfortable process. It requires us to face our fears, dismantle our ego and step into the unknown. It also requires the bravery to say “no” and lovingly break away from what doesn’t feel right in the moment.

Respect does not mean obedience. Social researcher Brené Brown proclaimed, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”

Spiritualist author Don Miguel Ruiz asks us to be impeccable with our word, not to make assumptions or take anything personally, and always to do our best. These four agreements provide a framework for a healthier society.

As we do the hard work of integrating the broken pieces within ourselves, we heal the violence caused by division. There is a space beyond the “us vs. them” mentality where beautiful transformation is possible. With these words I hold myself accountable to this lifelong effort while embracing the inevitability of my future mistakes.

Sable Knapp

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