For more than three decades, I have been on a journey with the mission of creating spaces to bring together people of diverse identities and views to build trust for the purposes of promoting health and well-being. I welcome you to join others and me on the next phase of this journey at U-RISE.
Over the years, I have lectured and written about going beyond dialogue (bi-directional) to engage polylogue (multi-directional). In the introduction to my 1995 book, entitled Health and Culture, Beyond the Western Paradigm, I invited scholars and practitioners from diverse backgrounds and interests to join me in a “polylogue designed to create a space in which voices of various intellectual and programmatic discourses are affirmed and legitimated.” Coining the term polylogue at the time was my attempt to erase the many binaries that fragment and confine us into one or two boxes. Those binaries inevitably force language into an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ framework.
To the degree that language and communication condition our imagination of what we see in ourselves and others, I introduced a polylogue as both a counter narrative and a space for multidirectional engagements of actors and exchanges of ideas. The resulting contribution requires these actors to be willing to accept the challenge of first understanding the space and voices of others with whom we are engaged in these communal conversations. The space demands that each of us is willing to quiet one’s own voice, not only to listen but actually hear the voices of others. This is the vision of U-RISE.
We need intersecting spaces to save and revitalize our collective ailing souls. With trust and integrity as our foundation, we begin the process of re-creating spaces for those values that are fundamental to sustaining a future we can all be proud of. U-RISE is the culmination of years of experience partnering with colleagues and friends in a search for solutions for promoting equity in health and well-being locally, nationally and globally. We are at a historical moment in our national and global political messaging. Many feel like strangers in their own homes, institutions, communities and, indeed, in their own countries. The consequence of this is ever-widening cultural and identity inequities in physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and cultural health and well-being. The point of departure for any communal conversation was once anchored in healing, nurturing and celebrating our differences. That point is now quickly shifting to unprecedented identity lacerations that have left open sores. This presents a new opportunity for collective healing.
The vision of U-RISE is to offer a space for different orchestras of actors whereby one’s contribution and value are not measured by the size of one’s instrument. Rather each actor/participant in a polylogue commits to the space by listening to others and learning to modulate their own contribution to the music. The goal is to enrich the symphony of engagement. In a polylogue, the ground rule is to always remember that we, “Judge ourselves by our intentions, while judging others by their action.”
The goal of U-RISE is to have our actions truly reflect our intensions. We do this by creating a brave space where trust and integrity are the cornerstones of collective action for positive transformation of ourselves, our institutions and our communities. Welcome to U-RISE where we are learning about and sharing how to “Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.”