It’s Time to Learn and Listen

These past weeks have taught us a lot about the world, the United States and ourselves.  There’s so much we don’t know; I’m included in this statement.  While scrolling through posts on Facebook, I read something that jumped out from the headlines.  There’s racism in all of us.  The first thing I wanted to do was deny that statement, but the more I pondered it, the more I had to admit there it’s true.

Racism has been present since the time the United States was founded.  Slavery has been a part of this country from the beginning in some form.  We had a Civil War to outlaw slavery, but it never really ended.  The people found ways around it.  We had the Civil Rights Movement, but again people found ways to continue with their beliefs.  Confronting our beliefs is one of the hardest things to do in life.

I grew up in the State of Maine.  To put it simply, there isn’t a lot of diversity.  For the few that were of a different race, they stood out.  This was my limited exposure as a child.  Even now most of the people I come across look like me.  I had never thought about the concept of “white privilege” until recently, which in of itself tells something about my privilege.

I didn’t agree with so many things happening in the United States, but I cried tears of hope when we elected our first black president.  I hoped that things could change.  While there was a portion of the population that was different, there was a portion that wasn’t about to let the old way of life go.

The universe has a way of repeating messages until we can see what we didn’t want to see. Hopefully, we’re starting to receive the message.  I’ve been searching my own soul.  I cried as I watched officers of the law tear gas protestors in our nation’s capital on live television and wondered how did we get to this point.

Our nation has an opportunity to be different, but first we must confront our past.  We have been part of the problem, whether we want to or not.  Racism is present whether we agree with it or not.  But how do we move forward?  I don’t have all of the answers, but two responses that I keep getting are community and listening.

Growing up I lived in a neighborhood, a very small one I’ll admit, but my neighbors knew my name.  I’d walk to school; people would wave and knew who I was.  I knew the names of the police officers.  I knew that if I did something wrong, someone was going to tell my parents.  I still live in this same town and it’s not the same place.  I don’t know all of my neighbor’s names. I don’t know our police by name.  I don’t know the people in our community.

Our communities are no longer part of our joys and sorrows.  We don’t know what people need.  We lost community along the way.  When we know our neighbors and who they are as people, we’re less likely to vilify them based upon our perceptions.  It’s not an easy undertaking but rebuilding the foundation of an entire country isn’t either.

I want to believe that there’s good in everyone.  Some days are harder than others.  I hope that people aren’t beyond redemption.  I hope that we can change the narrative and listen to what our neighbors need.  The best thing I can do right now with my white privilege is to say I don’t know the answers, but I’m ready to learn and to listen.  I don’t know the people in my community, but I’m ready to at least learn your names.  I’m ready to do better.  I’m ready to grow and to know that it’s going to take time.  Growth can be a painful process but there’s something each one of us can learn.

What have you learned or need to learn?  Let me know.  Do you want to know more about what I do?  Click here to book a discovery session or an appointment.