It has been a rough week. I mean, really...it has been a rough month. Not specifically just for me, but for our country, for our world. For our folks of color, for our police officers, for our children, for our neighbors in other countries. No one's life is more valuable than another and this very thought has divided us all once again.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day. She was (rightly) outraged that people aren't doing enough to stop racism, to stop the violence, to stop the hate. She was questioning the lack of activism in our country by people at large and it gave me pause. It is easy for myself, living in the country, away from traditional forms of media, to not immerse myself in the tragedies of our world. And in some ways I have a greater peace within because of it. We all might not be gifted in the areas of activist causes, but I do think we can all contribute to lessening the continued hatred in our world. We all have one very special superpower that can combat racism, discrimination, and blanket stereotypes. One superpower that we all posses that can change the world. It is a game changer...and developing it requires great patience and care. How we use it means everything in battling good and ignorance. But once it is fully realized, our life, and those around it, will change. Seeds will be planted, lights will come on and love will be spread. It is contagious and very powerful, but how you use your superpower means everything.
So what is this superpower we all posses? Our voice.
And like all superpowers, it needs to be cared for and nurtured in order for it to be powerful. But, like all superpowers, it has a dark side. Don't be tempted by the darkness. Here is a guide to using your superpower to fight ignorance:
Speak with love and good intention. If you already have negative emotions about the person or the topic, this will taint how the conversation flows. If you already have a negative judgement about the person or topic, then you are not using your superpower wisely. Go back to the Bat Cave immediately.
Craft your superpower in a way that people will hear you. Attacking another's point of view will squash all potential learning. (see point one on how to handle this).
Be less judgmental and more observatory with your words. Your judgement comes only from your own experiences and feelings and really has very little to do with anyone else. What you believe is your truth, but may not be someone else's. If you find yourself trying to convince someone that your truth is the only way to look at a situation, then you need to put away the golden lasso and take a time out.
Know when to silence your superpower and hear.....I mean really listen, to the other person's story. We can not learn anything until we understand the struggles and experiences of another. When we look only at our own point of view without understanding someone else's, it can be as debilitating as kryptonite.
Don't let intense emotions color your conversation. Being frustrated and angry can feel like you are out of control (just ask the Hulk). But learning to respond instead of reacting gives you your power back. Take an extra second and an extra breathe before using your own superpower with people that are a little more challenging.
Know that what other people believe and how they treat you has very little to do with you. Take a lesson from one of my favorite superheroes, Wonder Woman. She has golden bracelets that she wears on her wrists that absorb the impact of any incoming attack. Put them on and use them wisely to guard against your own incoming attacks, remembering not to take anything too personal.
Speak up and be courageous. Stand up for the oppressed, the victims or people who haven't developed their superpowers yet. Teach our children to find and use their own superpower to use for good. Teach them that, although we all might possess strength in our words, Captain America's true power was in using his intellect. Consciously choosing our words and carefully crafting out our thoughts is what differentiates us from our impulsive counterparts. Use your shield, but more importantly, use your words in a way that helps out those in need.
We all have a bit of superheroes in us. How we develop our own superpower and how we use it..well, that is, for each, our own journey. But what we need to remember, is people are counting on us. People are counting on us to rise up and challenge the ignorance, challenge the racism, challenge the discrimination. people are counting on us to peacefully wield our sword and start being the superhero we all know that resides within...go forward, my friends...and may the force be with you.