The news has been filled with a singular message over the last several months as the country seemingly hyper-focuses on rising tensions between law enforcement and minority groups in small towns and large cities across the country; us vs. them, Black lives matter vs. I stand with the XYZ Police Department. I don’t know about you, but the more I feel backed into a corner, the more I sink into the “me vs. them” mentality, and the increasingly angry, agitated and hyped up I become.
Falling onto a thinking pattern hijacked by a “me vs them” mentality makes it easier for me to react emotionally, ignoring more logical, constructive thoughts. It makes it easier for me justify aggressive, mean and otherwise destructive actions I may take further engrains the “me vs. them” thought pattern. For me, the more difficult path involves mentally stepping away from the way I feel and refocusing on constructive actions I can take to describe the way I feel and begin to implement changes I can control. It’s much more difficult for me to step away from myself and view the feelings, options and actions of others, with empathy and understanding.
While brutality, unnecessarily lethal force, rioting and looting are legally and morally wrong and are deplorable actions, I can’t help but wonder if we’re missing an underlying problem. There is a message that exists but is not perceived, a message that is not being articulated in a way that sparks understanding in those on “the opposing side”. There is a discussion that needs to happen, a discussion that leads everyone towards giving a little to get a little. If anything, I would like you to take one idea away from today’s blog. A thought I would like you to take to your dinner tables, car rides and grocery store errands with your children; the way we perceive, understand and respond to diversity, begins at home.
Start a conversation with your family about diversity and current events, keeping in mind that your kiddo’s will use your words as the foundation upon which they will begin to build their perception of the world around them. …when I see a person different from myself, I will think , I will feel , I will say . How empowering to think that from you, as their parent, as their teacher, as their model, your children will begin to shape their perception of others. This is an emotionally charged topic, for sure, but look at what is a stake. The message that needs to be heard originates in logical, casual conversations about our unique differences and similarities as human beings. The conversation that needs to happen includes more than a message of tolerance, but of understanding and healthy curiosity; your perception of the world is different from mine, and that’s ok. I wonder what that experience was like for someone that is .
My idea, this thought, that understanding diversity begins at home, may not be the quick fix to what’s going on nationwide. Many will disregard it because it “doesn’t do anything about right now.” While it’s easier to react emotionally, true lasting change takes time, consistency and for this topic anyway, the realization that we’re all on the same side.