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 forgot to pray for someone this morning. I talked with them yesterday and they had an appointment today for which I said; “I’ll pray for you.” Then, this morning, it completely slipped my mind! I didn’t realize it until the person I was supposed to pray for let me know everything went well. “Whew!” I then prayed a prayer of thankfulness for the person and for God still working even when we forget to ask.
I don’t think that our prayers determine God’s actions. I think we pray because God is already working and we want eyes that see grace, kindness, goodness from a God that connects himself to humanity in an amazing way.
I am thankful for a God that works even when we forget to ask, friends who support even when we take them for granted, jobs that aren’t always easy but provide us money and other benefits, a family who drives us crazy but we wouldn’t trade the world for, and life’s many miracles and answered prayers, that we can’t see or simply forget to look.
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It is incredibly easy to start an argument these days. Declare your allegiance to a political party, voice your opinion on an issue, talk about who you voted for or why you didn’t vote for the other person, accuse someone of not caring because they don’t share the same convictions you do.
I am amazed, but not really, how terribly divided our world, nations, states, communities and even our families are over matters of the mind and heart. We are so quick to pick a fight, defend our position, be suspect of anyone and everyone.
I was reflecting today over what it will take to bring us back together again. Then I wondered if we had ever, truly, been together. Maybe all the hate and vitriol had been under the surface all along and we couldn’t keep it hidden any longer. I don’t like thinking that way. I’d rather believe we, humanity, are going through a rough spot and, in time, something deeper will bring us back together. To be honest I don’t have much hope in what’s deeper being what’s better. Throughout human history we have hated, warred, fought against, killed and used one another to further our own goals with little thought of how it impacts the other.
Wisdom teaches humility first. Serving, helping, putting our neighbor (hint: everyone’s our neighbor, including our “enemies”) and their needs above our own. It doesn’t seem likely to happen soon, if ever, but it starts with the choice to love, be kind, refusing to see the other as separate, apart from us. We are human. If we could only find our purpose, our “being”.
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Us and Them?
I was in the checkout line this week behind a Hispanic family; a mom and three children. Two of the kids were hanging with mom while one was at a bargain bin admiring a bracelet with glass beads. The mother finished checking out, gathered her things and headed for the door. The problem is she forgot a child, the one admiring the bracelet. The cashier caught my eye and said; “You can come up now.” I smiled, gesturing to the girl and quipped; “I don’t think she’s ready.” “Oh. They do that all the time! Forget their children and leave the store. Come on up.” I wasn’t going to push the girl out of the way and so asked her; “Where’s your mom? Did she just go out the doors?” The little one stared at me and I’m not sure she understood what I was saying or was intimidated by a stranger. She moved and I kept my eye on the door while the cashier scanned my items. She continued to insult the mom and lumped all Hispanics together with condescending phrases; “They all do that, don’t care about their children. When I was growing up my mother would’ve never left me. She always knew where we were but they don’t care.” I finished checking out, retrieved my bag and headed out the door. I was annoyed and concerned.
When I got outside I scanned the parking lot for the mom and sure enough, she realized her child was missing and was heading back to the store. My worry dissipated. My annoyance at the cashier persists now as I am writing about it. I don’t understand how a person can casually dismiss an entire race of people. This child with the bracelet, this mom with her hands full, didn’t need judgment. They needed understanding instead of insults, someone to help the mom not forget her most precious cargo. Moms of all races have their hands full. Moms forget. Moms of all nationalities are burdened with remembering all kinds of things and if they are new to the United States of America there’s more she and her family has to deal with in a nation where a growing section of the community is hostile to them.
Instead of a fist offer a hand. Instead of a look of contempt offer empathy. Instead of judgment offer humanity.
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I think the world stinks! Somedays. Other days its okay and on a rare occasion I see the best in humanity and what we’re capable of and it makes the day brighter.
Earlier this week a man was contemplating ending his life. It’s not an easy decision to make but he had decided at least to walk to the bridge and then choose his next step. People say that those who threaten don’t want to commit suicide they want attention. It’s only those who choose to do it secretly, commit the act in privacy who are serious. This is not true. When someone decides to take their own life they may choose to do it in any number of ways, telling or not telling any number of people. This is why all threats of suicide should be taken seriously.
Back to the man on the bridge, contemplating his existence, his purpose in life and whether both were at an end. As he wrestled with one of life’s ultimate decisions police and crisis personnel tried to persuade him not to do it. Then, semi-truckers began to pull under the bridge and stop! They were doing their best to fill up enough space under the bridge that the man couldn’t end his life. They had loads to deliver, jobs to do, families to feed and paychecks to earn but they put their livelihoods aside to try to convince this man that people cared. Read story: (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2018/04/24/a-man-nearly-jumped-off-an-overpass-13-truckers-made-a-safety-net/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.006906aecec9)
Life is hard, the world is a mess, our nation is falling apart. Each of us can do something to show someone who feels unloved how much we care, clean up our part of the planet, heal our community and be the difference between life and death.
Hubris – excessive pride or self-confidence. synonyms: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority.
I watched a webinar today hosted by an esteemed professor on the role of genetics in the development of humanity both culturally and individually. It was an interesting presentation and clearly, the man was intelligent and dogmatic in his proposal. It didn’t take long, however, to realize the man was also proud of himself and said more than once; “This is the way it is and there is no other way.” He even went as far as to insinuate that if a person thought differently they were clearly not his equal.
This attitude has always rubbed me the wrong way. The thinking and feeling of someone else that they are superior to others. While it is true individuals may have more learning in certain areas than others it is usually because the other hasn’t put the time into the subject as another not because they are; “smarter.”
I’ve worked with and for leaders who have shown hubris, pride, arrogance. I’ve also worked with and for leaders who are humble. I have family and friends who fit both these descriptions. And, to be honest, I could rightly be accused of hubris on more than one occasion.
It’s an easy path to walk, the way of self-importance and self-indulgence. A wise person once told me; “Ego breeds ego.” In other words, no one wins when egos clash, but the fallout always brings pain and difficulty to many lives.
But I know that today many seek their way gropingly and don’t know in whom to trust. To them I say: believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it. #AndreGide