Books by Lorie Ann Grover

Books by Lorie Ann Grover
Kirkus Starred Review, Firstborn: "A fantasy that reads like a lost history tome and deftly examines issues of gender...An engrossing story with welcome depths."

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Helping Each Other Forward

My collage from the former site Polyvore. 

As we collectively march forward for social justice, find our way through the gaslighting of narcissistic political leaders, and work to protect our planet, we also walk individually. In our private lives, we have encounters where we can help each other forward. The exercise requires self-knowledge, reaching deeply for compassion, and the ability to not personalize another's aggressive fears.

Sometimes in an exchange, we are the ones enlightened to a new perspective, we grow in compassion, or realize our own privilege. It is then we acknowledge that, lean in, and try again. We make ourselves vulnerable to learn and grow from another.

I found myself recently startled to learn of a particular senior's rich, life experience. The fact that I was startled unveiled an ageist bias, one I thought I didn't have. Candid, present self-awareness is required to find these and grow.

Other times, we may have opportunity to share our stories, one-to-one, to help another gain insight. These can be quick, unexpected, small moments. Despite good efforts, we may be ignored. Two instances recently occurred for me.

First, I chose to share with my dentist that his choice of music in the office might trigger survivors of sexual assault when they are caught in the chair, unable to advocate for themselves. Despite my effort to connect, the dentist, with his life experience, has chosen to continue to place his song-choice-privilege over his patients' possible pain.

In the second instance, I shared with someone that their disregard of my preference for their privilege echoed previous pain in my life. As a writer and sexual assault survivor, having my voice silenced was particularly poignant. My personal story received no compassion, and the reply quoted "real" sexual assault survivors' testimony; thereby, he avoided personal responsibility.

As we walk forward in daily life and encounter difference, we might:

1. Listen.
2. Consider the life experiences of the other person we likely know little to nothing about.
3. Ask questions.
4. Ask where the women and other marginalized groups are in the setting. What are they saying?
5. If called for, admit ignorance and work to learn.
6. If discovered, admit bias, apologize, and strive to grow past it with compassion
7. Do not compare sufferings. Each has a weight of its own.
8. Do not minimize another's sufferings, especially when they have been brave enough to share them.
9. Never take a survivor's story or testimony without permission, for your own purposes, no matter the end you are reaching for.
10. If you are powerful and privileged, do not claim you have been victimized by the marginalized.
11. Be ready to set aside your privilege out of compassion for another.

Let us grow and help each other journey well. May our self-knowledge increase; may we have the ability to not personalize others' aggressive fears; and may we be patient and compassionate as each is worthy.

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