The last few months, more specifically the most recent weeks, have raised a lot of emotions. And understandably! 2020 rolled around; looked at us all square in the eyes and said, “Hold on to your hats folks! You’re in a for a bumpy ride!”
For months we upended our entire lives. We conducted everything out of our homes with only our immediate family. As social beings who crave connection, both in and outside our family unit, nothing about it was normal! It took its toll on our collective physical, mental, and emotional health. In the middle of all that, a heinous crime caught on tape sparked a racial conversation that has all sides of the spectrum constantly posting, commenting, writing about it – working to convince everyone else to see it their way.
These are difficult times! Values are being challenged, perspectives are being pushed, and so of course emotions are running high all over the place. How could they not be?! It would be shocking if they weren’t.
And so of course it stands to reason in the midst of all of this, equality is top of mind.
- It’s extremely important
- It’s a universal right [that should be] bestowed on every single human
- It doesn’t exist consistently
Though what I’ve noticed is that because we’re all trying to get someone to see our side, genuine equality evades us. If someone doesn’t see it (regardless of what it is) we move to judgment and alienation. We continue to state our claim and expect others to jump onboard. And when they don’t, we shut them out and move on. Thus never reaching or maintaining an equality mindset on any side of the spectrum for any spectrum (race, politics, sexual orientation, religion, pandemic, etc.)
And so around and around we go.
Equality extends well beyond the physical demographics and labels we’ve created. It includes difference in thought. We can’t claim to seek equality and acceptance on say something like race, if we’re unwilling to accept a different point of view on it. That includes any point of view that differs from ours in any way – even if we’re working toward the same outcome from different paths. In those moments, we’re seeking equality solely on our terms. When we choose to shun and/or shut people out of our lives because they think differently or they’re not showing as much emotion and vigor about a topic, we’re not willing to seek equality and acceptance for that [different] mindset.
How can anyone approach or respond to a topic in the same way you do? They simply can’t. They don’t have the same value system – or if they do, it definitely doesn’t translate in the exact same way for them. Nor have they had the experiences that dictate your thoughts and feelings. It’s not anyone’s responsibility to carry the emotions you carry for a certain topic or cause in the exact same way you do. And vice versa. Nor is anyone’s reaction to a topic or cause yours to judge. And here’s the toughest part – even when it’s abhorrent, heinous, controversial, or painful.
And so the divide remains. And when there’s any divide, there is no equality.
Equality is the outcome.
Just because someone thinks differently than we do, doesn’t mean they’re against us. We all know the world is not that binary. But in moments of high emotion and challenged perspectives, it’s only natural to think, “well if she doesn’t see it exactly how I do or doesn’t come at it with as much emotion, she must not support me.” It’s a form of protection and personal safety. We don’t want to feel someone isn’t in our corner, so we return the favor. We bar them from belonging with us and we bar ourselves from belonging with them.
Equality is the outcome. Creating and fostering belonging is the path for getting there. Until we can all embrace each other’s differences and create a sense of belonging, (even in the most divisive and emotionally charged instances) equality will continue to evade us.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m still on the journey of living this kind of life. By no means have I mastered it. There are specific instances and people who trigger me to no end and challenge my values to a point I can’t even see straight, which induce self-imposed barriers that can be difficult to tear down. But damn it if I’m not trying my hardest to walk this talk.
This isn’t easy. If it were, it wouldn’t surface for us to deal with. And our 21st century world of instant information and opinion sharing doesn’t make it easier to effectively process. When we think we have a handle on our own thoughts or emotions, something else pops up and we starting spinning to make sense of it all. To struggle in this moment with these topics is human. If you’re willing to step into this uncomfortable space and root through what’s coming up for you, reach out. Let’s connect. Life wasn’t meant to gone alone and whatever the thoughts, we all belong here.