What a crazy year we're leaving behind...
A year filled with concerns of:
*A Global Pandemic
*Polarization of group-think dynamics
*Awareness efforts and fights for Human Rights and Racial Equity
*Climate Control concerns
The year of 2020 has been focused around a variety of problem-saturated narratives. Regardless of our personal thoughts and feelings around different issues, we have all been effected by the realities and the media presentation of those realities.
We each interpret those realities in differing ways. Our interpretations often reflect experiences that are specific to our personal stories and unique positioning in the world. From this perspective, we often advocate for the the things that we believe will promote the greatest peace and well-being both within ourselves, and between us as people.
As I look back at the dynamics of 2020, I have to wonder if the activation of fear/ danger responses that we've each been experiencing at the level of our nervous systems aren't creating a world where we can no longer hear each other- where instead of being able to access peace that allows space inside each of us to reflect- and space between us to converse, we end up activated in protective places that have us prepared to 'fight for what we believe in.' As we 'fight for what we believe in,' I wonder how much we're missing out on in terms of 'accepting influence' from one another, and seeing each other's valuable contributions and considerations related to complex topics.
I hope shifts with 2021 might help us find ourselves accessing a posture of listening to understand from a heart of compassion vs. preparing to respond to take a stance in a fight or debate.
We certainly each have valid perspectives to offer the whole, but without a healthy dose of humility that helps us maintain the awareness that not a single one of us holds the answers to human suffering, perhaps we use our perspectives more as weapons to tear down the other than tools to build bridges of connection.
The reality at any given moment is that we don't know what our best efforts will create; no matter who we are there is only so much we can immediately see and understand related to how certain approaches will create different sets of gains-to-loss ratios amongst varying people groups throughout our world as we pull any given lever to try to access helpful change.
As we enter 2021, I find myself deeply appreciating the richness that living in a multi-layered world brings. I find it beautiful that we do not all share the same reality- that we have differing lifestyles, beliefs and ideas around how to create goodness in the world. I tend to assume that even positions that seem diametrically opposed to what we think is good, true, or right may be working to bring balancing energy into our world.
If we could each step into each other's shoes a little bit more, and judge from our position of advocacy a little bit less, perhaps we'd find ourselves benefiting more often from an iron sharpens iron experience. We might just begin to soften toward each other as we recognize that all of our thinking has both its strengths and limitations.
"If you want to change the world, start with yourself."
When we find ourselves feeling activated or fired-up about other people's beliefs or behaviors, perhaps we can recognize that greater peace will be had as we start with ourselves.
When you are fired up, try taking a few minutes to breath, and reflect on some of the considerations below:
Even if I disagree with the position that has me fired up, might I listen to understand the feelings and needs 'the other' is trying to have met through their efforts?
Consider a time where you also have experienced those feelings and needs in your own life. Use this awareness of your own human vulnerabilities as a source of empathy and compassion. Perhaps your own methods for getting your needs met were, in retrospect, sub-optimal. Perhaps you can appreciate that we all do the best we know at any given time to take care of ourselves.
Coming from this seat of compassion, you might even choose to consider a simple way that you could respond to the needs of those represented by the position that appears so opposite your own? The response might be as generous as making a donation to a cause associated with that people group, or as simple as the natural shift in your energy away from self-protection/ fight energy, and toward an understanding that will allow you to be conscious of sending increased 'cues of safety' from your nervous system to the nervous systems of 'the other' as you move through the world (acts of caring and kindness- simple smiles, you can go in front of me moments, generous thinking, etc.).
We all share the same basic human needs and longings. Let us remember, that from wherever we're starting, we all share core experiences in the human journey.
Let us celebrate life as uniquely different Everyday People as we enter 2021!
Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong My own beliefs are in my song The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then Makes no difference what group I'm in I am everyday people, yeah yeah There is a blue one who can't accept The green one for living with A fat one tryin' to be a skinny one Different strokes for different folks And so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby Ooh sha sha We got to live together I am no better and neither are you We're all the same whatever we do You love me you hate me You know me and then You can't figure out the bag I'm in I am everyday people There is a long hair That doesn't like the short hair For being such a rich one That will not help the poor one Different strokes for different folks And so on and so on scooby dooby dooby Ooh sha sha We got to live together There is a yellow one that won't Accept the black one That won't accept the red one That won't accept the white one Different strokes for different folks And so on and so on and Scooby dooby dooby Ooh sha sha I am everyday people Source: Musixmatch Songwriters: Sylvester Stewart Everyday People lyrics © Mijac Music