“Start with love and seek to understand” was a mantra I started using at a time in my career when I found myself frequently frustrated with actions and comments from people who seemed to jump to conclusions, not be open to discussion, and I just couldn’t understand why. I wanted to scream, but instead took a deep breath and said to myself “start with love and seek to understand”.
I’m finding this mantra come back to my daily practice. I don’t understand what is happening in the world today. I find myself watching the media outlets and feeling aggravated, angry, and saddened, appalled and shocked. I cannot understand the criminal actions of racism, inequality, and discrimination. I cannot understand the violence of looting and rioting. I don’t know what to do, or what to say, or even what to think. But I do know that my heart hurts. How can human beings have such deep rooted belief systems to act this way?
I’ve had many conversations with friends and family over the last several days. I’ve tried to find some personal experience in my own life that helps me try to empathize. Any of my own experiences pale in comparison to what others face every day. I’m a white female who grew up in a working middle class family. Life has always been good; I have had all the essentials of food, shelter, and safety and so much more. I have had the honor of working alongside colleagues from a vast diversity in backgrounds, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation. That honor has given me the experience of learning different cultures and beliefs and has opened my mind and heart to the beauty of our differences. Not everyone has had this opportunity or emotional framework to learn.
I have experienced male co-workers treating me as though I’m not smart enough. I have been seen as a sexual object and made to feel small. That is really the only personal experience I can reflect on, and while it is upsetting and I don’t mean to minimize it, it cannot compare to severity of what others have felt. It cannot come close!
So, I go back to starting with love and seeking to understand. Again and still.
Listen with an open mind and an open heart. Perhaps someday we will learn that our differences are a gift and no one – no human being on this earth – deserves the hatred and inhumane treatment we have been seeing for far too long.
I will not stop seeking to understand, listening, supporting those who need it at the time they need it, and walking along side those who see the same dream of equality as I do.
Will you join me?