Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
Given the recent tragedy surrounding George Floyd’s death, I realize more than ever that what we do not understand can hurt us. This past week, I was blessed to speak with many I consider allies. Why? They are my white colleagues who feel the pain and plight of African Americans, and they are inspired to understand our lens more deeply and to take deliberate action to use their influence to promote change.
The most impressive thing about these allies is that they want to fall on the sword for a battle they did not start. Nonetheless, they realize we all have a role to play and they are not cowering.
The work that I do around uncovering and using the voices of employees is a way for me to help organizational leaders understand what their people need from them to have better more magnetic experiences at work. It is my seeking to understand, the leaders’ willingness to allow this work and the employees’ openness to share their truths that make my venture successful.
If we are to learn from and change from George Floyd’s death, we must seek to understand each view, because what we do not understand can hurt us. Not knowing means we fear it. Then, we must all be seekers of the truth and proclaimers of love, compassion, and unity. We must stand in one another’s shoes and embrace the allies among us. Despite it all, we must be courageous in this battle to rid the world of narrow-minded, fear-filled thinking, and replace it with an openness to listen to understand.
Some time back, my daughter chose to deliver a Malcolm X speech to a class that was predominantly white. Before choosing that speech, she did not know much of his life. While learning more, she sought to understand his struggle and the stories he shared of teachers who told him he would amount to nothing. She was attracted to his struggle, because she struggled with learning delays, and was often surrounded by people who implied she could not do certain things.
She felt his pain, and she felt compelled to share his story. Her courage while reciting his speech was palpable to her classmates and teacher. Her teacher commented about how well she did, but as she recalled, he was obviously uncomfortable and defensive given some of Malcolm X’s rhetoric. No matter, after pondering her talk for days, he decided that they would study more about black history the following semester. In the end, my daughter felt validated.
We must all set our intent to listen more actively to what others are saying. We must all set our hearts to feel more of what others are feeling. Therefore, let us all seek to understand countering views and embrace the enlightening differences. Set out to include voices you might not ever think to invite into an ever-expanding conversation. Broach topics that make you uncomfortable for the sake of learning.
My daughter’s courage brought on change, and it all started with her desire to understand more about a man who would be an unlikely story for her to tell. What we do not understand can hurt us, and what we seek to understand and share with others can set us free!