I shake my head a lot at current events. There are things happening in this world that don’t make sense to me. Many of these happenings I can’t and won’t ever understand. Yet, they still make me wonder and cause me angst.
I’m sure the world has experienced this before. However, in my almost 30 years of existence, this is my first, front row seat to it. The world I see is very black or white, both figuratively and literally. Whether it be race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation and list continues, we don’t want to listen to each other, let alone respect each other.
It all seems very one-sided: I’m right because I’m _________. You’re wrong because you’re _________. When people hear someone identify as ______, they make a world of assumptions. A personal example: I am Catholic, I go to Mass on Sundays, don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent and pray often. I’ve experienced sharing this and others making an almost immediate assumption that I believe a whole swirl of ideas that I don’t personally agree with. Before I can even share this, I was dismissed. This person doesn’t know a thing about me, my faith or what I believe and don’t believe.
Now multiply that by the 327 million Americans walking around like this. No wonder we have these types of problems on our hands. We all do it, it’s part of our wiring as humans. The trick is to cultivate an awareness around what you’re doing, which ultimately means slowing down to participate in dialogue. When was the last time you have a constructive (not necessary positive) conversation with someone whose identity is different (and maybe you don’t agree with it) than yours? Make that your mission over this holiday weekend.
I’m surrounded by extraordinary individuals, whose experiences are much different than mine. I personally feel like that counts for something and still feel like there are more perspectives out there for me to learn about (there always will be). I also know that if I didn’t take the time to get to know these life-changing humans, I would have dismissed them because we’re more different than alike or because they once said something that I didn’t agree with. I’m shaking my own head as I type.
These issues are complex and deep rooted. I’m not suggesting that
- I understand all of the dimensions to these challenges
- I’m an expert – just a woman sharing her perspective
- I’ve gotten it right – believe me, writing this was a serious reflection about times when I got this so, so wrong. Can’t get stuck there.
- talking to each out and listening more will fix everything. But to quote Michelle Obama, “it’s hard to hate up close.”
I don’t have a nice, neat, bulleted list on what to do next. Stay curious – ask questions, start conversations and be open/responsive when people engage with you. Try new things because you’ll likely meet people who aren’t like you. If you want to see a change in this world, start by looking within and then accept that for change to occur, you’ll need to be uncomfortable.