Last week I sat down to write my blog which was going to be about my latest dilemma: Hulu or Netflix – which one stays and which one goes? But then, all hell broke loose. Two more black men gunned down by police officers. Police officers overseeing a peaceful demonstration in Dallas gunned down by a sniper. My original blog topic was now rendered beyond trivial.
What was going on in this country was big. Important.
Like many Americans I’m tired of the sadness. Tired of the anger. Tired of the same debates over and over again with no change.
Inevitably, like driving past a car accident, I can’t help but glance at the posts and comments on social media. I know I shouldn't. I know it will haunt me for the rest of the day, but I can't help myself. The comments demonstrate just how much we view, perceive and understand the events in our society based on our own experience with society without ever trying to look at the events from another person's point of view. Take this the response to a advocating dialogue about the racism in our society. One commenter didn’t believe racism exists, if it did, she questioned, how did Oprah and the hundreds of other "celebrities, pilots, directors and other elite minority” (not sure what that means) achieve success? In her (white) view it seems that those who complained about racism “felt entitled and did nit (sic) want to work".
I don't know what all Oprah Winfrey, or other African American "celebrities, pilots, directors and other 'elite minority'" people experience on their way to become who they are. But I am convinced that their experience in our society is vastly different from my own. I also don't know what any of the students in my classrooms, or my neighbors, or the woman who rang up my items at Target have gone through in their lifetime. I don't know the experiences of all those million Americans who struggle to make ends meet, who worry about where their next meal is coming from, or the experiences of those who don't have housing. I don’t try to guess. I don’t make assumptions about people who drive up to social service offices in new shiny cars – maybe they work there, maybe they are there for services and borrowed a car, or maybe they are there for service and do happen to own a new shiny car. What difference does that make in my life? It does me no good to make assumptions.
I really don't know a person’s will. I don’t know another person’s experiences. I can’t know what any other person, black, white, brown or red, has gone through on any given day or in their lifetime. It is pointless for me to try and make assumptions about these things. To what end?
What I do know is this. That when I am patient and kind with those I encounter on any given day – whether it be in traffic, in an elevator, in my work or in my home. When I don’t make assumptions about their motives, or how they are out to get me, or how they must feel entitled and how dare they? I know that when I approach people with kindness and patience I often get kindness and patience in return.
I challenge anyone reading this to give this a try. Just for one week, when you get your morning coffee – or if you’re switching back to soda due to the price increase – be kind to the barista or convenience store clerk, don't judge the Taurus driver who cut you off in traffic, or the co-worker who has been in bad mood for the last twenty-five years. Be kind to everyone you meet. You don’t know what kind of day they are having, you don’t know what happened to them the night before, the day before, the year before. Do you want them judging you? Making assumptions about how you came to be the way you are? I don't.
I challenge you, don't judge, be kind, be patience and just see how others react to you.