BRAVE Spaces: Rules for Engagement (Part 2)
Welcome to the BRAVE Blog! We tackle tough topics about identity, politics, identity politics, and what God says about all of it. Before we get too far into the conversation, let’s set some ground rules.
I want you to know that this is NOT a safe space. This space will challenge you, stretch you, and may leave you bruised and scratched. Places that have the possibility of leaving you bruised and scratched, are, by definition, not safe. Instead, I invite you into bravery.
The concept of a Brave Space isn’t brand new, but it is new-ish. I have used it for years as a framework for how we should enter difficult conversations. I originally heard of the Brave Space concept through an article written by Brian Arao and Kristi Clements called “From Safe to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialogue Around Diversity and Social Justice.” Initially, I worked with some colleagues to create the first iteration. I’ve since Updated it to reflect my personal journey.BRAVE
R - Respect
When I walk into a room and present these ground rules, people tend to glaze past this rule, as if we all know how to define respect. However, ironically, our assumptions that the definition of respect is universal leads to hurt feelings and an environment that is ultimately more harmful than helpful. So, while it may seem redundant, I usually stop here to ask what the group considers “respectful”. Miss Aretha Franklin said it best: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me!”
I want to invite you to answer that question: What do you consider respectful? More importantly, what do you consider disrespectful?
How many of the things that you listed on your “disrespect” list are rooted in White/Male Supremacy cultures?
Respect has different meanings in different cultures. In the dictionary, respect is defined as “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, and traditions of others.” At As I Am, we like to define respect as “the radical regard for humanity”. This includes believing in the value, power, meaning, and weight of others’ stories, but it also goes a bit further. Having a radical regard for humanity involves seeing God in everyone.
We are all created in the Imago Dei: the Image of God. That means that, at our best, everything about us is God. When we disrespect each other, we are disrespecting God. Bad deal, yes?
So, how do we hold a radical regard for humanity?
- We hold space for mistakes
- We take time to experience emotions
- We apologize when we are wrong
- We are gracious when we are wronged
- We assume the best intentions
- We act in justice
- We love with mercy
- We move in humility.
Radically regarding humanity pulls us out of ourselves and embeds us into a new world. We seek connection instead of correctness. We love courageously and completely. We err boldly and we embrace growth. We respect each other AND ourselves.
As we respect ourselves, we step further into the authenticity needed to transform ourselves and our world.