Breaking Out of BinariesJanuary 31, 2011 5 Comments
Photo by: Dionyziz
I’ve just about had it with the vitriol and saber-rattling lately. Our world cannot sustain much more bellowing from those on one end of a spectrum at those on the other, with no room for nuance, ambiguity or the unknown. Enough!
So much of our current day “discourse” is framed (at least in the mainstream media) by discussions of who is right/wrong, right/left, bad/good, holy/evil. As long as we are limited to these extremes, we will be doomed to the tyranny of righteousness and posturing. This will not, and cannot, sustain us.
Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to old speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His ability to engage ideas and hearts without spewing hatred often moves me to tears. I’ve so enjoyed hearing (again) his deep and resonant call to accountability and conscience. Somehow, with his commitment and clarity, and without name-calling or viciousness, he managed to move mountains. He didn’t get distracted by hatred or vilification. He built, instead, a “Beloved Community.”
Sometimes it is so tempting… so very easy to fall into the old comfortable dance of “we the anointed, they the oppressor,” or “we the good guys, they the bad.” Isn’t it oddly enjoyable now and then, to assign blame and condemn those with whom we disagree? I do it more often than I care to admit. Delicious.
And then I come to my senses and take the more difficult road of really trying to listen to those with whom I vehemently disagree. This means I must set aside my notions of who I think they are, and who I think I am. I have to be willing to be changed by what I hear. This is terribly challenging sometimes, but I find that when I’m willing to stop and really listen – with my heart as well as with my ears – I learn something. I grow. I change.
Biologists tell us that the most interesting, diverse and evolving places are at the edges of ecosystems – where unlike organisms come into contact with one another. And science is showing us that cooperation – not competition – is actually the best means of collective survival. What if we humans began to act as though we were part of the ecosystem, and were to sidle up to and explore difference rather than fear or kill it?
I know that you and I are working hard toward creating a world where leaders, both those in Congress and those who are nine years old, can gather freely. We are dreaming of a world where killing and torture are unthinkable, where we can disagree without mayhem.
This is a call to hearts. Let us interrupt the tendency to sort into “either/or”, to look for opportunities to blame, or to create enemies. Let’s explore some edges and find new ways to dance.
Good leadership depends on our willingness to engage new and, perhaps, uncomfortable ideas. It depends on our willingness to be changed by what we encounter, and to grow.
In fact, the world depends on it.
From my heart to yours.