We live in a time where a by the name of Tiger Woods, who identifies as multiracial is the dominant player in a sport which has been traditionally dominated by white men. We live in a time where two sisters who identify as African American, with the last name of “Williams”, are arguably the best tennis players on the planet, are excelling in a sport that has been traditionally dominated by white athletes. Let’s also add to the mix the fact that at least for the past decade or so white recording artists are going home with tons of Grammy Awards for the R&B (Rhythm and Blues) musical category, which our culture celebrates religiously each year . By the way did I mention that we now have a biracial Commander –In –Chief of these United States. These are definite signs , that the times, :they are a’changin!.
These are just some of the changes we are witnessing in our nation and I would be remiss for not acknowledging that for many these signs and symbols are uncomfortable and frightening for many as we enter a yet unnamed era. These are just some of the cultural changes our nation is experiencing in what has often been labeled as part of America’s Culture Wars. No, I’m not going to go into an essay on why some of these changes that are occurring should or should not threaten your sense of well being.
However, I will ask you to explore what signs and symbols “trigger” reactions from you, or “push your buttons” as the saying goes. I will ask you to explore how these signs and symbols may affect you and your perspective on life and those you encounter along the way. What is it that triggers fear or negative emotional reactions from you as you journey along the highway and by ways of life? Is it that some may choose to wear a cross or crucifix and are verbal about their faith tradition? Does it really bug you that there are some people who may not adhere to a traditional faith tradition, or even worse they may not even have a faith tradition at all?.
Is it a certain hairstyle? Dreadlocks, blue hair, green hair, “hippie” hair, no hair, crew cuts , and the like. Is it certain tattoos? Let’s not forget Confederate Flags, Bluegrass music, rap music, soul music, heavy metal music, etc? Is it certain political bumper stickers on cars? Is it that someone may identify politically as a conservative or progressive . Is it that some folk are Hindu, Muslim, Wiccan,…gay, bisexual, transsexual, you name it! I know of some people who get really uncomfortable by just hearing the words, race, diversity, Christian or, sexuality when having a dialogue!
What is it that really gets your goat?
There is a point to all of this and it is a profoundly simply one. It may not necessarily be the fact that a or symbol may cause us to react (or over react) at times. It may simply be the meanings and experiences that we attribute to them. Whatever it is, we must own our own wounds and reactions to life situations. Diversity is about how we treat our, neighbors,families, and our very selves. We must treat our neighbors as we would not only treat ourselves but the way they wish to be treated. This is what I call, “The Platinum Rule”. We need to treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of the signs and symbols may trigger us. Yes, its easier said than done, and we won’t do it all of the time. Yet we are responsible for our own wounds and we are not here to bleed all over each other. In other words we must hold each other and ourselves accountable.
Having said that, have you noticed that the times really are a’changin’!