Color Blind? –
This morning our staff attended a lecture on the Understanding Your Implicit Bias. The takeaway is that we all have biases, ways of looking at the world, groups of people, each other. These biases come from our parents, other role models we had as kids, extended families, the neighborhoods we grew up in, friends we hung around, and countless other influences. It wasn’t a lecture on “if” but “why” we developed biases and how they impact your interactions with people you encounter each day, what you think when you hear certain words, see certain images, and how deep these biases are rooted within us.
One of the more interesting topics the lecturer spoke about was the idea of being “color blind.” In other words not seeing a person’s skin color but their character. On the surface, this seems like a great way to connect with each other. The challenge with this way of thinking, according to the speaker, was that you strip a person of part of their identity. As a Christian, white, middle class, middle-aged, southern, heterosexual, male, each of these traits are part me. Along with the unique experiences of my life they make me who I am.
I found this a wonderful and a too often overlooked idea. Sometimes, in order to make everyone “equal”, we take away parts of their identity or neutralize them. When we do this we are doing a disservice to them and ourselves. People, fully known, recognized and loved, connects us in a balanced way that honors the breadth of humanity and the amazing uniqueness present in all of us.
For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com
Born Again –
I desire to be born again, each day emerging from a blanket cocoon, different from the person I was yesterday. Each day we take steps toward who we will eventually be at the end of our lives. Some are making progress toward love, grace, kindness, and peace, others walk in another direction.
What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow. This is a truth I try to live by. What we put our minds to, invest our emotions in, allow our spirits to inhabit, shapes the person we’ll be tomorrow and in the future. We underestimate the “big” and “little” experiences we encounter each day. We dismiss character flaws, hidden hurts, negative habits, and other behaviors and attitudes that either place chains on our souls.
To emerge, new each day, takes work today. We choose where our path will go, not what our path will go through, but its destination. We can’t make our path easy or difficult but we can decide how we handle both. The decision isn’t on tomorrow’s agenda but today’s.
Have you ever had someone talk about their funeral with you? I have many times. It’s surreal and humbling all at once.
We spend our lives chasing things which will pass, change, not stay or fulfill us. We ignore death as if that will somehow postpone its inevitability. However, when death becomes a reality and we see life for what it is; most an illusory, transient and brief journey our vision of ourselves and the world changes.
For some, there is anger that they cannot stave off death, it will not leave them alone. They are frustrated by their lack of control over the greatest danger to their destiny and existence.
Others, those who’ve accepted death and have made peace with their limited time in this physical realm have a unique way about them. Their transience doesn’t make them less caring but more empathetic and kind. Knowing each breath could be their last they don’t want it to be used taking but giving, not insulting but praising, not knocking down but lifting up, not selfish but selfless.
Death, the ultimate equalizer, and character revealer.
All that Glitters –
Today, before an addiction lecture, I sat and chatted in a room with several men. One of them was an intelligent, well spoken, good looking older gentleman. He asked good questions, had a gregarious personality and didn’t fit with the rest of the mostly younger, lower class, good ol’ boys who occupied the room.
After the lecture, he came up to me shook my hand and I asked him; “What is your occupation?” He replied; “I am, was, a dentist. I’m hoping to practice again, but we’ll have to wait and see.” We talked a little more, he left and flashed a perfect smile with straight, bright white teeth, as he departed.
To look at this man, one would not think drug addict, alcoholic. One would think of a big house, nice car, country club, kind of life. One would be very wrong. He didn’t have much of anything in the way of material wealth and was sharing life, going to group, sleeping, in a room with meth heads, cocaine addicts, drunkards, pill poppers. At his core, he was exactly like them.
Wisdom tells us to be extra cautious judging the outward appearance of a person. No matter what one looks like we do not know their story, the battles they’ve fought, what they’ve possessed and have had taken away.
“But for the grace of God, go I.” But for the grace of God, goes us all.”
My wife is busy painting this Memorial Day weekend. The smell of it is filling the house as she finishes up a couple of rooms she’s been working on most of the summer.
When we moved into our little house every wall, except for those in the bedroom, were white and if you know my wife you know that simply won’t do. She is working her way from the front lobby to the back bedroom. She loves color and her essence is in each shade that decorates the once mundane walls. As I’ve watched her cover them I reflect on the truth that she’s also added some paint to my life over the 26+ years we’ve been married. I am certainly tinted with her essence and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Each of us, every day, is painting the canvas of our lives and others. What we do, who we are, doesn’t just adorn our lives, reveals our character and spirit, but bleeds and splatters onto each person to whom we are connected.
Last night I watched the movie; “Legend” about two brothers who were London gangsters in the 1960s. The titular roles were both played by Tom Hardy in an excellent performance.
The theme of the movie was the bond between a smart business minded brother Reggie and his schizophrenic sibling Ron. Throughout the film Reggie’s attempt to climb the ladder of the underworld and become, possibly, a legitimately respected businessman was constantly being thwarted by his mentally unstable brother. The movie ends with a disturbing scene in which Reggie kills a low life extortionist in front of Ron and when Ron asks why he did it. Reggie’s response was; “Because I can’t kill you.”
Loyalty is almost always a laudable virtue. We want to be the type of people who stick by our family and friends. We long to be seen as ones who are there for others no matter what, in thick and thin, whatever the costs, no sacrifice too big. As desirous a trait this seems, there are times when loyalty can be detrimental and disastrous. If our loyalty violates our principles, puts us in situations which keeps us from our purpose, stops us from being who we’re called to be, and should be, then our loyalty is misplaced.
I tell the men I work with, who are suffering from the disease of addiction or incarcerated, that one of the hardest choices they’ll make in their new lives is deciding which friends, family, associates they can no longer be around. They will need to make a conscious decision of who will and who wont walk with them on the right path. Even folks who have been loyal to them; if these people are harmful influences in their lives, have to go.
Loyalty is part of a desirable character but when loyalty to others means we are disloyal to ourselves a new way of thinking and being is required.