I was remembering a suggestion someone made, tongue-in-cheek, about how politicians should wear suits or jackets like professional auto racers wear. You know the ones that have patches and graphics all over them showing who their sponsors are? I wish we would do that. It will never happen though. They don’t really want us to easily identify, or in some cases ever identify who donates to their campaigns because then we would really see what is behind their masks and who they really serve. But then that had me thinking a little further — about all of us. What if there were specific characteristics that showed the world who we are, what we are like as soon as anyone laid eyes on us — characteristics that couldn’t be changed? We already have issues with making assumptions based on skin, national origin, sex, etc. But what if naturally blue hair meant you hit your wife? What if checkered grey and green skin meant you were a cheater? What if lavender lips meant you were chronically mean? What if hair that grew straight up front, but tight and curly in the back showed that someone was a narcissist? Or what if whatever clothes we put on for the day and our bodies just instantly became tagged with these clues? What would that be like? Would that cause us to be kinder, to be quicker to care about how our actions affected others? The possibilities are endless… but I’ll bet a lot of us are glad this is just a daydream from a walk.
People come to us whole! It is only in our own eyes that we see and make someone else otherwise. Putting “less-than” upon another person is our own shortsightedness, not theirs.
What if you spent more time appreciating your spouse’s strengths than you did on wishing they did something else better or more? How much better could it be if you celebrated the whole of who they are instead of lamenting who they are not?
What if you got to know your kids just as they are, and loved their kind of genius that is already thriving in them vs. working to mold them into who you wish they would be? True, our children need our guidance. I believe fully that they come into this world already knowing every ounce of who they are, but we think or think we should know better and we convince them of the same. How confusing! Imagine if they were guided standing in who they already are instead of what we wished we could change them into!
Imagine the possibilities, the transformation, the opportunities that could open wide up by freeing up the other from the heaviness of our shortsighted expectations. Understand that it doesn’t just free them up, but us as well. Imagine that! No, really, take a moment to go on ahead and imagine it. I’ll wait.
Now, imagine all the love and affinity you could pour into that newly freed space – that even they could pour into it. What a world that could be. In my imagination, I see families freed up from generations of cycles of all kinds of abuse, spouses and children freed up from the different levels of fear and terror they feel when they hear the other spouse’s or parent’s car pulling up in the evening. I imagine children and young people freed up to be whatever it is that they dream and has them feel like the whole and worthy beings that they always have been, and employees returning home at the end of the day feeling satisfied instead of used. I imagine whole groups of people from different cultures and ethnicities walking freely on this Earth just as they should, knowing that they are loved and cared for just like anyone else, and not only accepted but appreciated for everything they are.
So I will end with what I started with. People come to us whole! It is only in our eyes that we make someone else otherwise. Putting “less-than” upon another person is our own shortsightedness, not theirs.
Move beyond imagining. It’s a superpower we all possess.
Good, bad, or indifferent, I’m the common denominator in every event and circumstance in my life. If I get to take credit for the celebration and praise-worthy instances, I must also take responsibility and credit for the lackluster and substandard occasions as well.
The way in was me, and so it is for the way out. If I want more, then I stay the course. If I want change, like everything else, that movement begins with me as well.
Simply because I’m human and share the planet, life sends me surprises. I may not be responsible for that, but I am still at the center of the space created from my own response.
“The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.” ~Julian Bond (Founder of Southern Poverty Law Center, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)
So many of us live in fear. I’m not saying that we go around hiding or shaking in our boots (though some might). What I am saying is that many of us operate out of fear, rather than love, and it shows in the way we treat people — even in our silence.
If we operated from love, I wouldn’t be writing this, and the world would look a whole lot different! For one, the conversations about race and gender inequality wouldn’t exist because neither subject would carry weight. We would treat family like… well, family! We wouldn’t see power-hungry bosses and co-workers stepping on others to gain ground or intimidate. We wouldn’t see power struggles in relationships, nor abuses of various kinds. Bullying would be unknown. We wouldn’t have the need to prove our superiority over another.
The current climate has brought out all kinds of fear; you can hear it in conversations and it thumps around in daily life. This is nothing new, but I suggest that the energy in our spaces right now has forced this nastiness upward and forward from the mires. Sometimes fear looks like hate; sometimes it looks like anger; sometimes it looks like sadness, or many other related negative emotions and actions. What it doesn’t look like is love for all, including love for self. Cooperation, collaboration, and affinity are abundantly missing in all walks of life.
Some of us are fearful of losing something if we contribute to others — the “what” that we fear is boundless. It could be money, footing, stature, reputation, family, friends, love… you name it! Unfortunately, when motives are fear-driven they come out in ways that we have several labels for, i.e., hate, bigotry, violence, misogyny, rudeness, bitterness, racism, homophobia, etc. I cannot imagine that there is one among us who never falls into the fear trap. I know I fall, and it is not pretty!
Though there are clearly many ways love and fear is each expressed, for the sake of this post, I am particularly speaking about making room for others to be on the same ground. I am talking about the absolute truth of helping, giving, allowing others to be and have the exact same allowances and how we do not lose a single thing in the process. Many who are “on top” view equal rights as a pie, and feel that if they give another the exact same space that they are in, that they lose a piece of their ground or a slice of their pie. But this is only true when we are speaking about an actual pie! (But even then I will argue that sharing is awesome, and you’ll still receive a wonderful intangible in return!)
Self-reflection time: Where in your life do you take issue with another having what you already have, be it property, pay, rights, housing, health… anything? Where in life do you hear yourself complaining about another that has requested the same fairness in life that you receive? If at this point the voice in your head just said, “I’m not prejudiced, but…,” or “I’m not a bigot, but…,” or “I believe in equal rights, but…,” or “I’m not a racist, but…,” or “I’m always nice, but….” Man, your “but” just told all about what’s really going on. Did you hear it? It was REALLY FAST so you might have missed it. Our “buts” will show our butts every time!
If at THIS point you have now gone into the discussion about “deserving,” and who deserves or doesn’t deserve something, you’re deflecting. Yes, you really are. This looking at self in the mirror thing doesn’t always feel good (at first), but it’s a practice we all need to be in. Your view of life is not the same as another’s, and it is no less or more accurate either. It is no less or more important. Your view and experience of life is not THEE view or experience, rather merely one in a myriad of views and experiences.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Where are you not listening to someone’s struggle, or discounting their account of life?
- When do you diminish others and their experiences based on their occupation, neighborhood, family, gender, skin color, religion, history, etc?
- And the bigger question: WHY are you doing that?
Is it really any wonder why we see anger from marginalized groups?
“When I uplift even one to equal standing, I lose nothing and gain it all — not only for myself, but for all of us. Likewise, the converse is true. Remember that one can and will cause a collective.
It is impossible to give more than I have, and completely possible to gain more than I dreamed when I pursue love-multiplied as my only agenda.”
The way I see it, we have two choices – LOVE and FEAR. Super simple! Now if you choose love, it does not mean that you have to agree, or even understand, but it does mean that you are giving others space to be who they are and to express how life is for them in a way that you can’t possibly understand. Again, you lose NOTHING. Who knows, you could even learn something and find out how ridiculous and unknowing you may have been before (which I strongly suspect is the reason so many of us refuse this opportunity)! Or you could realize how to be part of a solution, and/or how you might have been part of the problem.
Start today coming from your heart, and retrain your ears and mind to open up to those you have disregarded and discarded in the past based solely on things you can’t or refuse to relate to. Search your conscience for where you have turned it off in order to be okay with your discounting of others. Acknowledge the humanity in all, and the fact that we really all yearn for the same essentials. Listen to someone you might not have before, and not to gain anything for yourself, but just out of love. It’s a win-win. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, and you’ll start gaining faster if you listen more than you speak!
P.S. Let me know if you’ve been brave enough to start giving people space to be who they are, and what you’re learning.
When one is uplifted, so are we all. Equality does not mean that someone loses something in order for someone else to gain equal footing. Equality shouldn’t be feared, yet it is. Fear of losing something is what drives a lot of people to refuse to respect and hear about another person’s experience/s that is different from their own. So I’ll say it again: When one is uplifted, so are we all.
Do not lose faith in humankind. Do not break the chain that connects us. Do not give in to the bad things that happen – because bad things do happen. Do not let the bad things chip away at your humanity. You are above that, and that is what bad things are for. Do not try to understand something that cannot be understood. Our assignment is to keep loving each other. That is all.