We are living in troubling and challenging times.
It’s easy to look out into the world, to turn on the news, and feel like things are chaotic and overwhelming.
Some of us want to shut down.
Some of us want to get angry.
Some of us don’t know what to do.
Wherever you stand and however you feel, I have a question for you:
What does the world need more of right now?
When I look around and consider this, it’s clear to me that the world could use us a lot more empathy.
We’re destined to disagree with people.
And sometimes these people have ideas we find horrendous and disgusting.
This creates an instinctive response of hostility.
We begin to attack the person and not the idea.
If we were able to exercise more empathy, we still might not agree but we could understand that this person believes what they do because of their conditioning.
And if you had walked the exact same life that they have walked, you would almost undeniably believe the same thing.
We live in an age where it feels impossible to be truly certain about our beliefs.
There is so much misinformation and manipulation happening.
And it is here that we need to exercise humility.
Have the fortitude to examine our own beliefs.
To accept the likelihood that there are things we hold as true now that are actually false.
And it’s okay.
We must be afforded the ability to grow and learn.
We must be afforded some measure of grace.
Because after all….
How does it feel being wrong before you’ve realized it?
It feels like being right.
No one is completely right or wrong.
Our world is made of shades of grey with imperfect people making their best attempt.
The question is….
Are you willing to examine your own beliefs so you can discover where you *might* be wrong?
Or are you committed to holding on to your beliefs independent of the truth they hold?
Some people desperately cling to beliefs because they are more about maintaining membership in certain groups.
They don’t want to lose a sense of belonging.
It’s not about the truth.
But these people have forgotten that there are universal aspects to the human experience that we all share.
Grief. Loss. Hope. Joy.
We’re all born and we all die.
These things connect us all.
We live in an age where 24 hour news cycles and AI algorithms make it easy for us to dehumanize those we disagree with.
Are you willing to ask how you can find common ground?
Are you willing to deeply listen?
Only through this are we able to advance policies that will make a difference in the future.
May George Floyd rest in peace.
May Breonna Taylor rest in peace.
May Ahmaud Arbery rest in peace.
May David Dorn rest in peace.
Their lives mattered. Black lives matter.
Our hearts go out to their families who are surely in unspeakable pain.
May we build a future that honors their lives and sees that they did not die in vain.
If it weren’t enough, this devastation coincides with over 100,000 Americans lost to COVID-19.
Sons. Daughters. Fathers. Mothers. Husbands. Wives. Grandfathers. Grandmothers.
There is tremendous tragedy around us all.
We must leave our preconceived notions at the door.
The only appropriate response to this level of collective pain is tremendous compassion met with effective action.
This is how we navigate the scar tissue of the past, the fresh wounds of the present, and the tragic loss yet to come.
I speak to you as a fellow human with deep care in my heart.
I hope you’ll join me in mustering as much empathy as you can manage.
We need it right now.
So what do we do?
Have uncomfortable conversations with people you disagree with.
Suppress the urge to be right or the need to force your point of view.
Instead, try to listen and understand.
A great book that can help you learn how to do this is “Why Are We Yelling?”
If you want to see a collection of research-based policy reforms for combating police brutality look into Campaign Zero.
And finally, we live in a time where our principles can help us navigate these difficult and confusing times.
Three worthy principles that can offer us guidance come from Chloe Valdary’s Theory of Enchantment: