In my efforts to follow the Universe’s guidance, this week I spoke to a group of Gender/Sexuality Alliance (GSA) students at a local high school this. It meant a lot to me, and it’s a tiny one step forward in a journey of a thousand miles.
The students? Awesome, amazing, smart and kind. Their questions? Honest, heartfelt and vulnerable. What do they want? Acceptance…especially from their families. Adults in our world that care about them and believe they are perfect…just as they are. To meet others that have walked where they are today and survived the challenges that they currently face…some from self, some at school, more at home, mostly in our world. To know that it gets better…they really wanted to know that.
When I tell some of my family and friends, gay and straight, why this is important, I sometimes get, “Really? In 2018?” Unfortunately, yes. Especially in 2018. These young people have adults in power using them as pawns in their political chess game. To me, this is nothing new, but I am one of many who thought this type of game-playing was behind us. It isn’t. So, I actually agree when they say, “Really? In 2018?”
Here are the questions that run through my mind, heart and soul:
“Why are the most vulnerable in our society always singled out? What’s the benefit of looking for differences? What is the fear? Why do those who appear to have everything they need compare and compete to get a sense of importance? Is it insecurity and fear that creates the need to make intolerable decisions to create a sense of security? Is it seeing others live a different lifestyle that gives the impression that they must be living wrong…therefore we are living right?”
When you encounter someone who is more vulnerable in our world than you, do you see and feel their pain, their challenges, and their struggle? Does it give you empathy and a sense of compassion or fear and a sense of judgment? If it’s empathy, it’s a bridge to connect you to another person’s experience. If it’s fear, it’s a barrier to create a reaction of fight, flight or freeze. It takes a lot of courage to sit with and in another person’s experience…to be with them in struggle. It’s easy to run out of fear.
So, how do you stop running? First, you have to want to. You have to want a better world…for everyone. You can’t pick and choose for some and not for others, or you remain in fear. You have to let go of your defensive beliefs that others are trying to take something from you. You have to look another person in the eyes, someone you don’t understand, and find a place where you see their perspective…even and especially if you don’t agree with it. You have to show up…for yourself, for your loved ones, for our world.
My hope is that we can show up for those young students that are relying on us to see ourselves in their lives. To find acceptance. To care. To know that we are actively working to make this world a better place. They need to know that we are doing everything possible to create an open and accepting world for ourselves, for them and for all of our futures.
That they need…and that’s just the minimum.