I’ve been struggling. Where does my voice fit? How does my voice count, while at the same time show solidarity in the struggle of others? Does it count? My privilege is my enemy right now. It blinds me while at the same time seems to bind me. My actions I feel are more important right now than my voice. For sure I will think differently in any words I type or say. I will listen more actively. Practice deeper awareness towards those around me. What they need. When I am asked, be there to help. Kinship.
I lived, learned, and been part of an in-group. I’ve also lived through being most of my life in what many would call an out-group. I’ve studied tribe mentalities to understand more. We feel much less motivated to help someone when they are not a part of our group which ever group that is. Even hostile towards others that are not. Even when others outside of that group want to help.
I believe the more we can work on expanding our awareness that no matter how far or deep out cultures are separate, we all have a shared identity. Recognizing our commonalities we have with one another, even when those similarities are super easy to see, is a great place to begin.
I started this weekend trying to put myself in my fellow humans shoes. Although I will never ever feel it as deep as some do, it does give me a direction on where I can start to reach out. I can only ask questions. Look at my own ignorance so I can learn to be better. To help where I can. I can never feel it as deep, I can’t solve something that’s personal for someone else, but I can teach myself and others around me how they can help.
I start with thinking of a person in my life who is very different than I am. Culturally, ethnically, sexually, and in every other way possibly different. Different interests or hobbies. Different religion. Different life experiences. Policy or political differences. I even thought about those that I have direct conflict with because they’re not part of my group or their group is in direct opposition to mine. I make a list of all that.
Then I begin to make a list of everything we have in common. Because it is there. Maybe we both work for the same corporation. Our language. Both having children. Passion for similar hobbies. Adversities that we have in common like broken hearts, handicaps, lost loved ones. All that I can think of we share in common. One right now that is easy to start with is our humanity. We all part of the human species. That means 99.9 percent in each of our DNA is shared. That’s a lot in common!
I take both lists. I sit with it. Read both columns over and over again. I begin to see not just differences, but I find more in common with this person than what’s different. Instead of this person in front of me being a member of an out-group, I see a human being whose identity is a match for my own in several ways. In fact, there are more things that we overlap or share than there are that don’t.
I take that one exercise. This one person. Then I do it with the next person who is different to me. Especially where there is conflict. Especially when that person makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s a queue I need to do more to understand. I’m not always good at going there, but I vow to be better at it. I’ve found even a simple love of the same sports is all it needs to be to begin to deeply understand someone. To build trust. To build kinship.
“To practice courage, compassion, and connection is to look at life and the people around us, and say, ‘I’m all in.’”– Brene Brown
There is no need to feel competitive toward people outside of our so called in-group. We’re all part of the same group. Where there is fear, scarce resources our boundaries of feeling safe shrink. We lash out. Remind yourself like I’m trying to do myself, to see the basic humanity that we all share and have in common. It is the only way we will overcome fear. It is the only way to eradicate distrust. It will promote cooperation. Recognizing our commonalities does not mean negating our differences. It helps us to value them even more. It strengthens.
I’m hear to help. I see you. I hurt for you.