In the beginning of one of my Mindful Facilitation Workbooks is this quote I wrote: We are really only one question away from being connected; from learning about one another’s journey. And that one question only comes about when we are willing to be open to hearing another truth outside our own.
If we are ever going to heal as a nation, then we must find a way to engage one another in a more intimate and honest conversation about what separates and divides us. We cannot heal if we close our eyes to the wounds that many folks have to endure each day and fail to understand the effect that this has on their sense of safety and trust that things will ever change in their lifetime, for their children or in their communities.
These questions beg to be answered because if these issues are not talked about or dealt with, one day the anger and the hurt from all those thousands of slights and insults that were never dealt with will explode into something way more physical – into a violence fueled by hatred and hopelessness. Isn’t that what we are seeing being played out every day throughout this country and the world?
So, the challenge for all of us is really about what it will take for us to begin this conversation. How willing are we to stay in the room, to speak our truths and to hear the truth, even if it differs from our own? And, in that discourse, are we willing to reflect, be curious, take responsibility and be open to change personally and institutionally? Respect and understanding of diversity issues are simply words until they are practiced and integrated into the very fabric of our workplaces and communities, relationships, attitudes and behaviors. They inextricably bind us to our destiny as a community and as a nation. Will we be separate, unequal and divided or will we work together by honoring and recognizing the beauty of our differences and the contributions of everyone? The choice is ours and the moment is not tomorrow, but, today… with those we love and with those we have been taught to fear.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was right when he said in 1968, “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish together as fools. We are tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects us all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I thought I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”