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My friends Alexa Russell Matthews and Nicole Joshua recently ran a workshop titled, “The ‘Colour’ Elephant in the Room” which you can read some of a participant’s experience of over here.

What stood out to me though was this list of what was referred to as the ‘Ten Commandments’ which was the basis of a commitment to engage well with each other. For those of us seeking to be positively involved in conversation and action in the hopes of seeing South Africa become a better place, these would be good to embrace and try out:

Ten Words on Communication

1. Thou shalt listen actively, ask questions, and refrain from giving advice.

2. Thou shalt engage both thy heart and thy head, emotion and reason.

3, Thou shalt seek to like “the other”.

4. Thou shalt dance, not fight.

5. Thou shalt not blame, shame or demonise others, or victimise yourself.

6. Thou shalt play for win-win, not win-lose or lose-lose.

7. Thou shalt respectfully establish areas of disagreement.

8. If you hear an idea that is new or strange, try it on for size.

9. If you tend to be quiet, “step up”. If you tend to dominate, ” step back”.

10. Speak from your heart and experience, and keep in confidence what others tell you.

[These “Ten Commandments” are accredited to Brian McLaren and fellow conversation partners at the Amahoro Africa Gatherings. It was part of the introductory sessions for first time conversation partners, and laid the foundation for those dialogues.]

“In the light of the anger we have seen expressed on campuses around the country, and the racial incidents in the news all the time, and the social media culture of racist intolerance, rudeness and insult, perhaps we should take a deep breath and try to have our conversations in this frame of mind?” [Renee Moodie]

Which one of these commandments, do you think would be hardest for you to obey? Which one of them would you see as being most helpful in a typical Facebook conversation on Race? Stick your answers in the comments section. 

[For the next piece on Handing Over The Mic, click here]

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