These days seem highly charged with plenty of folks labeling themselves and each other alt-right, leftist liberal, sexist, misogynist, LGBTQ+ and plenty of other descriptors while trying to convince each other who is right and who is wrong.
You are this and I am that. So therefore you are wrong and I am right.
While if-then statements work well for computer programming they don’t work so well for understanding the complexities of human beings or human behavior.
You are either with us or against us didn’t work out so well. It never has and it never will because it’s infinitely and inherently more complicated than that.
It is never black and white. It’s always grey.
Reducing humans to a singular label and dismissing them will not move us forward. We are individually and collectively much more intricate than that.
To label is to limit.
If we reduce someone with a simplistic label and pretend that it is the totality of who they are it reduces them to an easily manageable quantity and denigrates their humanity. It makes it much easier to hate them and dismiss them instead of seeing them as people we can relate to and find our universal commonalities with.
As my good friend K. Keith Gravitt just recently and eloquently said, “Everyone and everything seem so polarized right now. Whenever we take the totality of one’s thoughts, feelings, and life experiences and dismissively reduce them down to a single adjective like redneck, libtard or Bible-thumper we limit the possibility of learning something, growing as a person, and maybe, just maybe, finding out that we have more in common than we differ.“.
To understand someone takes time. Labels make it quick and efficient.
To recognize bits of yourself in the other is difficult. Labeling and dismissing as different is easy.
People are contradictory and messy. Labels are neat and tidy.
Labeling also has the side benefit of stroking our ego. Thank god I am not like that! I am like this! Whew!
It’s incredibly frightening and an arduous task to stand alone. It’s much easier to stand with others we believe wear our same labels.
Now more than ever it seems we need to take time to understand each other and drop the simplistic labels.
We need to open up to the other 7 billion souls we got schlepping around on this planet because we each carry a unique perspective and unique experiences.
In other words we need to learn to Walk Between the Worlds.
Here is why.
To the best of my reckoning I figure we all have a common human experience and therefore a bond with each other in a very deep and meaningful sense. What separates us are superficial differences in appearance, beliefs and behavior but at the core we are all the same and share a common human experience of being alive on this planet.
If we look beyond the cracker thin veneer of those differences we discover that we are all fundamentally similar with the same basic needs, fears, wants and desires. What separates us from each other is our limited perception of who we are and our failure to see ourselves reflected in each other. (Excerpt from Young Homeless Professional)
So here is my challenge to you.
Download this excerpt Walk Between The Worlds. Share this post with others.
Discuss it with your family, community, students and strangers.
Let me know what you learn.