Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone deserves to be heard. No one wants to listen. That’s the gist of it.

Hurts and fears are deeply ingrained in the human psyche. Those in power are defensive or immune to thoughts of losing power. Actions bear this out. Those who are targets of oppressive practices are tired of working within a system whose goal is to maintain control at all cost. Anger and frustration of the disenfranchised spill into rage, allowing those in power permission to crack down violently under the pretense of maintaining law and order.

We see the system play out as federal troops deploy to Portland, uninvited by state and local authorities. We saw it when resisters marched to stand against the Vietnam War, and in the civil rights movement. We saw it as blacks tried to register to vote or run for office in the south; in the violent resistance to women’s marches to secure the 19th amendment, and as Mexican Americans were driven from their homes and land as Texas pushed its border south to the Rio Grande. We saw it in the displacement of indigenous people by genocide through forced removal to remote, barren regions of the country as treaty after treaty was violated by the US government.

How might we learn to be accountable in our relationships? Such history is a bitter one to reconcile when too many people resist the shift from “me to we” that is required. Collaboration and trust build upon three simple but not easy steps to take in that direction. They lay the foundation to move beyond rightness and wrongness.  They are personal examinations necessary to begin the process of interacting with and understanding one another.

  1. Everyone has something valuable and essential to contribute. We must ensure that every voice is heard and no one is left out. It means putting our vested interests aside temporarily in order to hear the heartfelt concerns of others.
    • Question for reflection: What perspectives, groups or voices am I leaving out, awarely or unawarely, that need to be in the conversation?
  1. Trust and mutual understanding are key. They are essential ingredients to connect and hold us in relationship for the long run.
    • Question for reflection: What aspects of self (experiences, identities and/or actions) keep me from opening to the lived experiences of others?
  2. Organizations, structures and systems change as people change. Courage to walk into the discomfort of conflict rather than avoiding or jumping over it provides an opportunity to discover the source of the fear, resistance or emotional disconnect. Self-reflection empowers us to see the world through a larger, more inclusive lens.
    • Question for reflection: In what ways do preconceived judgments block my attempts toward mutuality and connection?

When we are clear in our intent we are on the path of discovery and return to wholeness. Yes, there will be mistakes. Yes, learning occurs best without blame, shame, or guilt. Yes, impact is a stronger teacher than intent. Yes, this a lifelong journey toward freedom and liberation. And yes, what could possibly be more exciting.

Steven Jarose

July 25, 2020