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.
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I was asked earlier this week by my talk therapist; “What is your perfect life?” I didn’t hesitate in describing to her my idea of bliss. After listening, she paused a few moments and asked; “Why do you not have this life?” I reflected on her question and responded; “Because it would screw up other people’s life.” I know my perfect life doesn’t equal the image, illusion, of what those who are connected to me have of their “perfect life.” My idea of a perfect life isn’t grandiose or over the top. It’s simple but would complicate my relationships with those who love and care for me the most. These complications would make my life imperfect. So, the choice to let go of what I think I want, need and accept what I have is key to stillness of mind and spirit.
Life isn’t complicated. We choose to make it that way. One of the ways we make it this way is comparing our “perfect lives,” or the idea of what we think perfection would be, with what our lives are currently. These types of comparisons only cause us to suffer, to strive for an illusion that is improbable. Letting go of comparisons about our lives, each other, and accept this moment, exactly as it is, is a big step forward on the road to a wise and content existence.
My wife is a wonderful woman, and brave. Brave because she went to Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon! There are many reasons she’s wonderful but her concern and empathy for people and other things overwhelms me sometimes. Today, on her way to what we infamously call; “Wally World” a chipmunk jumped on the road and tried to run across when Beth was at the same spot with her car. “Thump, thump,” was all she heard but it was enough. She called me a few minutes after leaving the house and I knew something had happened. “Hello?” I answered. “Hey. I ran over a chipmunk,” she replied on the verge of tears. “It came out of nowhere and I tried to stop but couldn’t and that’s when I heard the ‘Thump!‘” I listened to her and told her I was sorry. “I know you would never do that if you could avoid it.” She knew this also and after a while she was okay. I asked her to be safe and remember that I love her. We hung up and the rest of the day has been without incident but the confession over her accidentally taking the life of a rodent is one of the many reasons my life is better because she’s in it.
While she was gone, after the phone call, I reflected on her having a heart big enough that a chipmunk she didn’t know existed a moment before the incident could have an impact on her. I wondered what our families, communities, nation, and the world would be like if each of us had the respect, concern, and empathy for all things, especially each other. I think we’d all live and be in a happier, safer, place.
Putting Up with Each Other –
Today is my wife Beth and my anniversary. 28 years to be exact. There are days it seems like only yesterday we said; “I do’s” and others where I wonder; “what happened to those 19-year-old kids? What were they thinking? Were they thinking? Did they understand the journey they were about to embark on?”
I told Beth today; “I don’t know how you put up with me.” Some husbands and wives jest in this way but Beth knows how serious I am. Reflecting on that day 28 years ago, a hot June day in 1990 when we met at the church to say our vows to each other there is a realization I am not the person she married. Somehow Beth has grown into an even more beautiful woman inside and out. People love to be around her. Her personality is infectious. Her smile draws people to her and her spirit makes them feel welcome and loved. She is, by far, the better half.
This other half has walked a long, hard part of the journey these last several years. The struggle with, diagnosing of and living with severe chronic depression and severe anxiety have taken their toll in certain areas of my life. However, I have been blessed with a partner who meant it when she said; “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” I could not ask for nor deserve her love, patience, perseverance. I tell her this regularly and she reminds me she’s far from perfect.
“We’ll stay on this road together’ she says, ‘putting up with each other.” Sounds good to me.