My collage from the former site Polyvore.
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.
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:
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.