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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Resolution #15: Get to know an "Other"

It's Martin Luther King's birthday.  The real one, not that day some of you get off work.  In honor of his beautiful and powerful life work and inspired by Elizabeth Lesser's wonderful TED talk, which ends this post, today's resolution is to open our hearts to someone who is very different from us.  Someone who scares us, pisses us off or just challenges our comfort level.

I may have mentioned in a post here some time ago that a local retired physics teacher, Pat Canon, started a group to do just this during the period of the contentious Bush/Gore elections.  Concerned about the black and white, middle-school bullying nature of what should have been civic dialogue, he asked devoted members of both ends of the political spectrum to come together in dialogue.  Their goal: not to persuade, but to understand the view of the other.

In my work I come into intimate conversation with people of all sorts of beliefs.  I listen with as open a heart as I can muster to grasp how they have come to their views, so that even if I disagree with those views, their actions in light of them make sense to me.  For example, a gay son feels rejected by his evangelical parents.  But in their perspective, his orientation may forever separate them in the afterlife-- and their condemnation of him comes, believe it or not, out of love and fear, not hatred.

Most of the time, the more we understand about each other, the less fearful and reactive we will be.  In light of the recent events in Tuscon and their alleged motivation (here I am talking about political views, not mental illness), it is more important than ever to remember our common humanity instead of our separateness. It is time to get way past tolerance, and to understanding.

This video will give you some guidance on making it happen.

Related posts:
Resolution #12:  Accept Others

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