The overarching approach to RPrime and our four core values are rooted in adages that have proven effective throughout the course of our history. The four pillars, as we refer to them, are demonstrated in life and literature.
The Dignity of Difference by Jonathan Sacks underscores that we must respect diverse thoughts and beliefs. Without mutual respect, societies and cultures crumble. Additionally, Factfulness by Hans Rosling proves that data must inform how we perceive the world around us and what actions we must collectively take to solve problems.
The pillars guide our everyday work at RPrime and all of our efforts are rooted in using data-driven approaches to bring together communities across the globe to collectively solve life’s greatest challenges.
1. The Golden RuleAlmost every culture and faith tradition acknowledges the value of the Golden Rule. It’s found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, a Sioux Prayer, a Babylon Legend, Plato, Confucius, African Bush Proverbs and, of course, the New Testament, essential and eternal truth that the best way to live is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The positive impact of living by the Golden Rule and making relationship primary is validated by Harvard’s 75-year study that followed three hundred individuals throughout their lives and reported on their sense of well-being every couple of years.
2. The Dignity of DifferenceIn 2002 Jonathan Sacks, Former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, wrote a provocative book titled The Dignity of Difference. He observes that humans are wired to be connected to specific traditions and communities. Relationships start with yourself and your belief system and move out to your family, your community, and the world at large. Rabbi Sacks observes that strong connections to tradition and community are an essential part of making relationships primary. The degree to which you can be in a relationship with someone else or their community is the degree to which you respect them. Respect and Relationship are like working gears, as one moves so, of its nature, does the other. Sacks points out that the opposite of the Dignity of Difference is Universalism. In this model, a population is unconsciously and socially compelled to accept the predominant network of opinions because the cost of not agreeing is social and practical isolation. Of course, since humans are tribal by nature, what really happens is that one tribe within the community becomes strong and compels all the other tribes to accept their authority. We’ve seen this with medieval Christianity and Islam, Greek and Roman empires, etc. The dictum becomes, ‘agree with me or be killed,’ or as is the case today, ‘be intimidated into silence and inaction.’ This impulse destroys societies, communities and individuals. A society that appreciates differences is flexible and creative; a society that stifles difference becomes rigid and brittle. Heterogeneity is strong; homogeneity is weak.
3. ReconciliationAs is the case in all relationships, if there is injury or conflict between two people or groups, then Reconciliation needs to occur for the Relationship to proceed towards harmony. Reconciliation unsticks relationships between individuals and groups, and it also creates a space for entire cultures to shift. A recent clear example of the power of reconciliation is the wonderful forgiveness offered by the Charleston Church congregation after the terrible shooting that occurred there. The grace they showed brought down the Confederate Flag. It created a space for communities to come together, listen to one another, and take harmonizing steps. Other examples are the Truth and Reconciliation Commission led by Desmond Tutu in South Africa and the Northern Ireland Peace Process. The only way to find deep alignment and shift cultures is through a process of Reconciliation. The grace required is no easy task but we see it in action in the lives of great people like Martin Luther King, Jr, John Lewis and Desmon Tutu. King’s letter written days before he died exemplifies his profound respect for others and his desire for Reconciliation. There is a marvelous and inspiring example of the power of forgiveness in the chain of forgiving and healing begun by the Muslim community that helped an attacked Pittsburgh synagogue. Without the ability to reconcile differences, power struggles based on class, race, education or political affiliation occur. The reciprocal violence continues until one group becomes dominant and controlling through increasingly coercive means. Communist China and Russia and most of the Middle East are current examples. These are inherently unstable societies that ultimately end badly.
4. AgencyThe fourth Pillar, and foundational cornerstone, of RPrime is a personal agency of one’s own abilities; the realization that it is possible to cope with normal stresses and work productively, both for oneself and for the wider community. This is the World Health Organization’s definition of mental health. This kind of ownership leads to the empowering realization that the power of one determined individual can drive change. We believe that the principles of RPrime provide a basic foundation for achieving this personal ownership. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Gandhi, and Susan B. Anthony are impressive examples of the result of this kind of personal ownership, but there are millions of unsung heroes and heroines who take it upon themselves to better the lot of orphans, make greedy landlords mend their ways, start organizations like the Big Brothers and Big Sisters or initiate a Meals on Wheels program. These people did not do it alone. They realized that they must seek or create a community with the same aspirations and goals. Such a community has great power to influence others and effect change. William Wilberforce used his grass roots Reformation of Manners movement to change English society enough to get slavery abolished in the English Commonwealth. What makes a successful community? • Mutual respect among the members – The Dignity of Difference. • The faith that differences can be resolved by understanding and forgiveness – Reconciliation. • The faith that members mean each other well –The GoldenRule