Gonzalez shared her story of tough civic work over the last year, when she served on boards for redistricting and water utilities. Inspired by Love Your Enemies, she shifted how she approached this work and was able to build consensus for changing how San Antonio’s water utility bills its most vulnerable customers.
Woods shared similar stories of learning to love those who could have seemed like enemies. She described a tough conversation about race in her cohort with the Foundation where she is one of only two Black people. Her cohort leader paused the conversation so each person could choose whether to continue to engage. As hard as it was, each of them came back, ready to lean into the difficulty.
“It takes self-awareness,” Woods said, to examine our own biases and preconceived notions when we’re trying to make real connections. “I’m a firm believer that this is a model for real change.”
Brooks reminded the audience that he didn’t coin the phrase, “Love your enemies.” That admonition comes from Jesus in Matthew 5:44, but it applies far beyond Christian communities. “It’s a message to all of us who want to make America and the world better,” he said.
Less contempt and more love. Less division and more connection.
“My measure of success walking in was whether we created the conditions for people who didn’t already know each other to connect,” Coffee said. “And I think we did that.”