The first step in getting past much of the division in society today is to recognize that fear of each other is a factor and being propagated, said Mike Foster, author of People of the Second Chance and leader of a ministry by the same name.
“Part of what I’m seeing in our culture is this absolute division, this ‘side taking,’ this polarization that’s happening,” Foster told Together LA backstage at Catalyst West on Thursday. “The underpinning of all that is just fear. I think one of the things that we actually need to be aware of is that we don’t have to be afraid of each other.”
He added, “The way that we become less afraid of each other is to actually be together, to sit in the same room, to humanize each other and to say [things to ourselves such as] ‘Oh, he likes Starbucks grande lattes, me too,’ or ‘He has kids that are adolescents that he is trying to raise. That’s just like me, too.’”
Foster said that there is much to benefit from “the sense of being together and understanding that fear is the engine for most of the dysfunction that we are seeing in our world.”
He said he believes that fueling the fear is the large amounts of time many of us spend consuming news and television which “teaches us to be afraid.”
“Our brain is taking in millions and millions of data points and cues all the time and I think we don’t realize how that’s impacting us in a really negative way,” he said.
“I’m telling people to step back from that system and say, hey, listen, you are swimming in a system that is teaching you to hate people, to see people as your enemy,” Foster explained. “If we can step out of that and say, ‘Why don’t I shut up for a second and just listen.’ Instead of throwing a virtual stone from a million miles away, ‘Why don’t I just sit at a table and have a coffee with somebody?’”
People should be able to sit down and have a conversation, he said. “I don’t have to agree with everything you say. You don’t have to agree with everything I say. The fact that is not happening in our society is very destructive thing that’s going to lead us on a journey that’s going to yield things that we ultimately do not want as a church, as a country, as a society as a whole.
“The way that we heal our cities is unity, is coming together, is giving people the benefit of the doubt, is holding our tongue and actually spending some time listening, and asking a question versus giving an answer.”
Foster was one of several speakers on Thursday, the first day of the two-day Catalyst West conference held at Mariners Church in Irvine.