Have been struggling with a number of posts the last few weeks that don’t seem to want to be written, or posted. Largely because they seem to be focused on things I’m not in love with. The TED talk below popped up recently and helped me see some of my problem, too much focus in the public discourse on the negative, or the problems, or all the bad behavior. You know what I mean, you’ve been reading the news or glued to the internet, or the TV. Focus on “those other people,” the ones not like “us”. The “other”.
Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the Omega Institute put forth the challenge in the talk below a few years ago. I’m not able to find much about it today, but it strikes a chord about an idea I’ve had for years, how to bridge the gaps between “us” and “them,” everyone from our enemy nations to the neighbor across the street who doesn’t keep the grass cut the way we want it.
Those reading this who’ve been pursuing things spiritual are learning, or studying about Oneness, Unity, how we’re all ultimately one and connected, and not just at the hip, in spite of how it looks, in spite of the media evidence to the contrary. We simply have to find ways to make it real. Ms. Lesser suggests we take our “others” to lunch! Or what about tea, or coffee, a baseball game, a jog, a joint walk of the dogs? I’ve bridged a lot of these divides since kindergarten, integrating some place or another, or just forcing myself on someone who seems not to want to warm up to me. Even had a warm chat once against my inclinations, being “urged” to sit on the stoop and talk to the handyman, an acknowledged member of the American Communist Party, while awaiting a meeting with my client! It was a long time ago, when I was very young and opinionated. It was a remarkable, enlightening conversation with a very nice man that taught me not to judge.
I’ve discovered that most of the time, 97.8% of the time, when I’m feeling some form of affront to my senses rear its head, that all I have to do is make eye contact, or exchange a simple greeting and the criticism backs right off. I’ve managed to push past the divide to connect with humanity.
For years I’ve pondered a grand scheme to get folk to make friends with people they’re not used to being around, people not from their usual “circle”. Maybe this is me sidling up to the plate, suggesting more of us consider even a conversation with someone we don’t like very much? Forage for some common ground. Dare to drop a prejudice, or two. We lament the wars, the school shootings, the institutional neglect from those people who’re supposed to do something about these situations. What if each of us did something, some small thing to begin the process, break down some walls. Something small, to reduce the need for something large, like the effort it took to tear down the Berlin Wall, or end Apartheid on the back of one man.
Share a latte, a beer, a sandwich, a cookie, a flower, a sunset, something, with your “other”! I’m still out there doing my little part, but will try to amp it up a bit.