I long for a place where we all sit together. By we all, yes I mean we all. I think I would share a meal with anyone because sitting together doesn’t require agreeing with eachother. Recognizing this concept has allowed so much freedom.
Sharing food, sharing drinks, sharing laughs. A sister shares a story and her brother listens without judgment. The skin colors are different, the clothes come from varied cultures. Stories and cultural context and history often get lost in translation, but at least they’re explored. When someone misunderstands they say, “Wait, what do you mean? Tell me more.” There is some laughter, because yes, how could we possibly understand the entire context of another person’s life? But there is respect, friendship, and a desire to understand nonetheless.
When the topic of diversity has come up, often I fell silent out of fear of not knowing enough, of not feeling worthy to enter the conversation. This is so untrue! We all have a place at the table, that’s the whole point of the table. Maybe I have not experienced discrimination on a deep level, but I know in my innermost being that discrimination pains me and there is another way. If we are to move forward, there must be.
Our prejudices come in so many different flavors. And they’re all bitter and ugly.
Progressive or conservative. Black or white or anything in between. Gay or straight or transgender or queer or bisexual. Man or woman.
These are not the essence of who we are. Of course they can be important; these diversities contribute to our identity, our behavior, our lifestyles. But underneath we all have beating hearts and fascinating brains – we are all trying to make sense of this life. Of the meaning. Of our purpose. We do not ignore the differences – heck no! To ignore the differences is just as awful as defining people by them. What if we embrace our differences, are honest about our misunderstanding of different people + different ways of life, and just tried to listen.
Often I’ve thought, What in the world can I (little old me) do about the gaping problems in society related to all of our differences? I think there are many people who desire a community that reflects love, respect, and dignity for all. We can’t take responsibility for other’s actions across the globe, but we can empathize with others. We can exude openness, love, curiousity, and honesty in our sphere of influence.
How do we get to the table? We create it, and we create a culture that welcomes it. Walk to the table, sit, listen and learn. Then invite others to the table with you.
Create the community you long for. Invite diversity and humility. Ask questions and listen. Acknowledge the differences and celebrate the differences.