Meet Me in the Gray

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“Just because a politician talks about something doesn’t make it political.”

When did science and culture become political? When did everything become black and white (and I don’t mean racially)? When did medicine and history become à la cart?

In the last month or so I’ve been having (and hearing) a lot of conversations around the state of the union, politics (which I despise), education, and COVID-19. Like many, I’m pretty exhausted with it all.

I’m tired of feeling alone in trying to keep my family safe. Tired of feeling like we’ll never return to the lifestyle we had pre-pandemic or anything that resembles it. Tired of the arguing. Tired of the loudness and meanness. Tired, just tired.

We live in a world of polarity. If you’re not a vaxxer, you’re an anti-vaxxer. If you’re not an ally, you’re an enemy. If you’re not a Republican, you’re a Democrat. If you’re not [fill in the blank], then you’re canceled.

What happened to active listening? What happened to trying to see the other side? What happened to understanding? What happened to empathy?

On a recent episode of Dare to Lead with Brené Brown, she and Amy Cuddy discussed Pandemic Flux Syndrome. While dissecting trends and the reverberating effects of the ongoing pandemic, Brené said something that really resonated with me.

She was having a conversation with her children, who had missed out on normal milestones and events that many of our children missed out on too, and encouraging them to just feel. She wanted them to acknowledge their feelings, accept their feelings, and feel their feelings without guilt, shame, or comparison. Only then can there be space for more compassion and empathy for others’ suffering. Otherwise, there’s defensiveness, fear, and anger…and there’s already too much of that in the world being spread around. It’s why we have “Cancel Culture” and the “But what about” mindset.

Person 1: “X” politician lied about “XYZ”…

Person 2: Yeah, but what about “Y” politician…

or

Person 1: “X” person was mistreated…

Person 2: Yeah, but what about their history as a juvenile?

Two things can exist at the same time. It doesn’t always have to be right or wrong. 

School teaches us to learn from history. Science teaches us to conduct research and trust experts. Religion teaches us to be kind, treating others as we’d want to be treated. Family teaches us to accept different personalities. Children teach us that it takes a village and patience. Nature teaches us to work together for something bigger than ourselves.

When did opinions start to mean more than experience? When did credibility become so cloudy? When did people’s value become whittled down to nothing more than easy labels? 

“Love, like joy, is a courageous act.”

– Radha Agrawal, Entrepreneur, and Author

I yearn for more love. I yearn for a more joy-filled world for the future of the younger generations.

Step outside the box. Break down the boundaries. Have difficult conversations with unlikely acquaintances. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Put your vulnerability front and center. Try your hardest to meet me in the gray. That is where collaboration meets change. That’s where the world becomes a better place. That’s where I’ll be waiting for you.

Do you stand in the gray?

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