As Circling the Wagons 2015 Conference organizers, our vision is to open and expand a more understanding atmosphere for ourselves, for our loved ones with conflicting viewpoints, and especially for quiet onlookers who desperately need someone in their own life to acknowledge and love them where they are, regardless of their belief system, labels, or life path.
Our respective narratives, beliefs, and personal choices are important to each of us, whether Mormon or atheist, queer or SSA, cisgender or trans, same-sex partnering or mixed-sex partnering. But what’s even more important to us is the health and welfare of the vulnerable among us who are being hurt by conflicts around them as they struggle to be truly understood and find their way. We share a sense of responsibility to protect them.
We believe that one significant way we can do better for our communities and relationships is by listening more carefully to each other as we build bridges from all sides of deep divides. To that end, we affirm self-determination, we value diversity, and we agree to accept rather than change each other. Our approach is not about “poster children” or promotion of particular life paths: it’s about individuals paving healing pathways by meeting each other where we are. It’s about pausing the tug-of-war on our vulnerable, walking in each others’ shoes, facing our differences constructively, and working together face-to-face, so we can go home better prepared to walk with those who may feel alone or alienated in our own homes and communities, where the most “courageous conversations” need to happen.