Intense Conversations on the International Day of Peace

Today, I witnessed an interesting CoffeeHour Conversation held with the International Day of Peace in mind. The conversation was between colleagues at a small organization and included topics ranging from reflections on 9/11 to inclusiveness in the workplace. Part of our work at Tanenbaum has been promoting these conversations and so I knew what to expect in theory, but I was surprised at my intense introspection as the conversation bloomed.

As one might expect, the energy in the room shifted noticeably when personal reflections concerning 9/11 were shared. Colleagues spoke frankly of anger, fear, avoidance, confusion, frustration, and more. One person mentioned that there have been other hateful acts that have claimed more lives than the 9/11 attacks, but also pointed out that the conflicts resulting from 9/11 have arguably claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands. Every single person brought a unique perspective to the discussion and dealt with 9/11 and the 10th anniversary in his or her own way.
 
Colleagues also explored their own biases and attitudes about discussing religion in their office. Someone mentioned that the topic can be taboo or invite conflict. Others were uncomfortable with conversations about religion because their own religiosity continues to evolve and they were concerned about discussing it and maybe not fitting in with their peers. 
 
As the conversation wrapped up, no concrete decisions or policy shifts were forged, but the air felt lighter. This conversation was not about solving anything, but about sharing and exploring similarities and differences.
 
So what kind of organization did these employees work for? Well, it was none other than the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. We believe deeply in our work, including its necessity within our own office. We encourage you to explore holding a CoffeeHour Conversation in your own organization and to check out Tanenbaum’s resources for creating an inclusive workplace.
 
Have a happy Peace Day!
 
Mike Ward
Communications Associate