ArtilesWhat is TranscommunalityLetters to the Editor

Assuming that the woodsedge is crossed (with permission of those inside) what follows next is interaction. Respect, as a keyword, does not diminish at this point. Rather it becomes if anything, even more significant.
Interactions, formal or informal, task-oriented, or general can bring those who have not heretofore known each other together. In the process of coming together, we can expect a growing recognition of that which people have in common.
But through real inter-action we can also expect a growing recognition of that which they do not have in common. The awareness of different paths among interacting peoples is as important as the recognition of commonality. Real diversity will bring real differences and disagreements. If these many paths are perceived as a negative simply because of their difference there can be consequent breakdown of conversation, retreat from interaction, and bruised feelings that form barriers to further work together.
As in any relationship, partners will not have exactly the same outlooks, interests, or goals. Most people do not look for clones of themselves for partners. Rather we seek those who can, through their distinctive attributes, enrich the essence of our being, while we hope to offer the same to them--the friend or the partner. It is no different for larger scale social interactions.
Such enrichment is about learning from that which is different from our own selves. We grow in part through interaction with difference. That difference may mean distinct viewpoints. Sometimes it can mean real divergences. But, we continue to interact because we find out something about ourselves if we have disagreements with others. We find out something about others when we disagree with them. Assuming that we disagree respectfully, without insult or injury we can be clear-minded and recognize that perhaps for some issues we must disagree if indeed the relationship itself is to have real integrity for all involved. Such positive disagreement is what I call “constructive disputing.” It is constructive because, rather than leading to breakdown, it helps people to build up relationships of mutual understanding that recognize rather than flee from diversity. Constructive disputing is, from my perspective, one of the brilliant features of the Haudenosaunee capacity to have diversity within a structure and a structure that consist of diversity.

Mutual understanding means that the parties of the interaction are no longer exactly the same as when they started. Respectful interactions that build on constructive disputing lead to meaningful personal transformation. Simultaneous transformations based on exchange of knowledge about one another are the social glue that can hold together that which is diverse, without in any way obliterating that diversity in a top down controlled melting pot that requires assimilationist homogenization to one and only cultural or political agenda.

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