Pursue What Matters
Episode 62: Meet Me in the Field
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Well, 2020, my heart is heavy. Maybe yours is too. We’re living in troubled times, and it seems harder and harder to find common ground. How do we do civil discourse in a world on fire?
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:19
I am Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably been troubled by the events happening around us. There is discord and polarization everywhere we turn. Today, I’m definitely not interested in choosing a side, there’s enough of that I deeply care about everything I’m seeing, I think I think what can be helpful for all of us is to understand the perspectives of those around us. And I’m really interested in in helping myself and helping you look at what you and I can do. So in recent weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about unjust systems and dismantling from the ground up. And all of that is macro, right? So we we talk about macro systems, we talk about micro systems. And I won’t really have anything to say about macro system macrosystems. In this podcast, I’ve definitely talked a little bit more about that, in a previous podcast, when I talked about daring leaders are never silent about hard things. And I will link to that podcast, if you’d like to, if you’d like to listen to that. And I’m also not saying that there’s not a place for attention to the macro system. So I’m definitely not saying that. But what I am saying is today, I want to focus on the micro. And I’m coming to you as a psychologist and as a leadership coach. And I remember in grad school, I was sitting in a course in my doctoral program. And I remember this distinctly because I was like, what, but one of my professors said, Okay, so you as psychologists are relationship experts, which I mean, on its surface is like really like the most basic statement about what it means to be a psychologist. But when my professor said that, it was very jarring to me. And I think, I think what it was is I felt, I felt such a sense of responsibility. With those words, you are a relationship expert, you need to help people know how to navigate relationships. And I took that statement, I took that call, I took that responsibility really seriously. And let me just say, I don’t, I don’t want to pretend to have relationships all figured out, I I definitely have some skills, I have some expertise to have some education, I, you know, like, I don’t want to also dismiss or minimize my skills, because I’ve worked really hard to develop my skills and my expertise and my education. So I come to you with that knowledge and that expertise. But relationships are hard. And talking about painful topics is so incredibly vulnerable. It requires such courage. And it, it exposes us and so when, you know, I heard that statement years, you know, it’s been it’s been a long time ago now, for my professor of you our relationship expert, I have carried that message in my heart and that responsibility for all of these years to to help on the micro level first, as as my priority and so that is the lens that I often see the world through. And the macro is so incredibly important. And again, like I don’t want to dismiss that I don’t want to minimize that it’s important and we need to help address our communities.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:56
But working at the micro also helps to address the macro So what we do in our homes, what we do in our relationships, learning to have difficult conversations, learning to have civil discourse, about really charged topics can heal our communities. And so the micro is nested in the macro. And so today, on the podcast, I really want to talk about, what can you do personally, to address a world on fire? What can you do personally, to contribute to civil discourse in a world on fire, because the micro, how you carry yourself in the world makes a difference to the macro to the world at large. And so that is what I want to talk about today. And I want to talk about you, I want to talk about me, I want to talk about what this means for you in your life, your leadership and your relationships. And again, I’m not trying to dismiss the macro, there’s a place for that discussion. But there needs to be a balance. Otherwise, it’s so easy to become overwhelmed, to become helpless and hopeless about whether change is even possible. And I don’t know about you, but I felt a touch of that lately. So you know, every single day, I have the privilege of talking to individuals, I have the privilege of talking to leaders, to leadership teams, to individuals of all walks of life, who are scared, who are worried about the future, and who are worried about speaking up, who are experiencing bullying, and who care deeply about these issues. But they don’t know how to speak to these issues. They don’t know how to speak to their loved ones, they don’t know how to speak to their neighbors, they don’t know how to speak to those that they lead. They are scared about repercussions. They are scared about backlash. And you know, they also write like it’s an opportunity for empathy, you know, for them to have to have empathy for the felt experience of others. And so I’ve had this, this, this window into a lot of this fear, I’ve felt this fear myself. And what I know for myself is I do not want to live in fear. And in recent weeks, I have felt fear, I have felt real fear for the loss of our humanity as a people. Because I see that we are talking past one another. And I’ve seen the failure of civil discourse. So I see fear. I see the loss of humanity, in the rejection to engage in civil discourse. I see it in bullying online. I see it in refusals to acknowledge the experience of another, I see it and call outs. I see it in excusing the inexcusable, I see it in rewriting history. through the lens of today. I see it on the left, I see it on the right. I see it in groupthink. I see it in those I love. And if I’m totally honest, I can see it in myself. I don’t like that. And I don’t, I don’t want I don’t want to lose my humanity. I don’t want to lose this great country that I love. And so today’s podcast is really focused on what you and I can personally do to contribute to civil discourse in a world on fire. So of course, as a psychologist, as a leadership coach, I firmly believe that each one of us has power to contribute to making our lives, our relationships, our communities, our nation and yes, our world better.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:10
We are not powerless. We are not helpless. We are not hopeless. It begins with you. It begins with me. We can do this. We can do this. These are uncomfortable conversations. They are worth having. We need to find a way to get through it together. every single week. With the podcast My goal is to help you strengthen and develop your confidence suite I do that in one of three areas. So clarity leading with clarity, which is all about purpose and living to your potential that the second area is in leading with clarity with curiosity, which is all about self awareness and the third area is is leading and building a community. And so the primary areas for today, I mean, it’s really all three. But the primary areas for today are leading with curiosity. So self awareness about your own blind spots, which is so hard. And so it’s such a big issue when it comes to race issues when it comes to class issues when it comes to privilege, who just so many blind spots like boulder sized blind spots, that a commitment to curiosity and to self awareness is really, really important. And then, of course, the second area is leading, leading and building a community, because we’re all in this together. And we’ve got to find a way to communicate and to engage in civil discourse, we’ve got to stop talking past one another. We’ve got to seek understanding, we’ve got to learn to take the perspective of another. And so those are the two primary areas that I really want to help you develop the confidence to lead with the podcast today. So I was recently reading a fascinating novel. So it’s, it’s, it’s a novel, but it is based on real life events. Based on two men, one a Palestinian and one an Israeli and boy don’t don’t experiences there have a lot to teach us about discord and civil discourse. And it is such it is such a moving story of history, conflict, the nature of war, division, reconciliation, trauma, and healing. It is it is powerful, it is moving, I have been touched by this book, the book has really had me reflecting on how we tend to dehumanize those we see as different, and how incredibly dangerous that act is, and how powerful it can be to see the other as human, as a mother, as a brother, as a sister, a father, a son, a daughter, it seems so simple. And yet that act to humanize another can be so challenging. We label people, we put them in boxes, we dehumanize them, we objectify them, rather than being able to see them, like we see those that we love, as people as three dimensional. So we’ve been taught to defend, we’ve been taught that we must be right, that we must defend our territory, whether literal or figurative to the death. And this process of defending this process of dehumanizing others and objectifying others, makes it so hard to listen makes it so hard to see the needs of the other, or to see the other, the other person at all. And as I was reading the book, and I came across a quote from Rumi, that literally took my breath away. This is the quote, beyond right and wrong, there is a field, I’ll meet you there. It took my breath away. Beyond right and wrong, there is a field, I’ll meet you there. I’ve not been able to get this quote out of my mind. Because everything that I’ve seen, and everything that I’ve heard in recent weeks, is about who’s right and who’s wrong.
Unknown Speaker 13:54
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:56
beyond right and wrong, we need to find a way to meet we need to find a way to get past our own. Our own perspective, this is what we need. This is what we are lacking. At a certain point, if we are to move forward, we need to let go of right and wrong. We are all right. And we’re all wrong together. And we need to find a way to talk. So over a year ago, I was fortunate enough to hear Oprah speak in person and Wow, it was amazing. She you know is so amazing. So you’ve kind of got to understand what this means to me what and what this meant to me because so so let me give you a little context. So I was the girl who watched the Oprah show religiously every single day after school and well into adulthood. I mean I was the original fan girl of Oprah. I love Oprah. And I still do. My family teases me a lot about Oprah. And you know, I probably deserve it because I really love Oprah. And if I ever missed the show, I would record it. So I never missed an episode. I mean, I watched all of her shows. So I read every single one of her Oprah book club books. Yes, I did. I owned them all. And I had magazines in my closet with her on the cover. And all of my friends tease me for my Oprah worship like this was when I was in high school, like how many high school girls like, had a worship issue with Oprah. But that was me. And I was, you know, I have my original subscription to the Oprah Magazine going on 20 years now. I’m, I’m an original subscriber there. And so seriously, big fan girl here. So it was a real treat, to hear her speak. And she did not disappoint. Of course, at the end of her talk, she did an informal q&a, and was asked what most troubled her about the current state of things. And she said something that really struck me, her answer was the thing that most troubled her about the state of the state of the world at this point was the loss of civil discourse. And that was so striking to me. She talked about the gift of being able to connect with so many people over her years at the Oprah show, and that it taught her empathy for people from so many walks of life and that she felt so troubled, that we have seen to last to seem to have lost our way, in terms of a willingness to talk civilly with one another. And that that is what was most troubling to her. And I after, after that event, I thought a lot about that, and reflected on you know, what I was seeing in the media and I was like, You know what, she is really a prophet. She really does see things.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:16
She she sees things and has a good pulse on what’s happening. And I tend to agree with her assessment there. Our ability to our inability to, to talk respectfully, and understand another is is a serious loss. And you know, as is true with most things, Oprah says she was really wise and spot on, because we’re seeing exactly her concern every day this summer. And it’s been so devastating to watch. And in, in an interview that Oprah did with sister Joan chittister. In May 2019. It was on her super soul conversations she describes so Oprah describes it as a wake up call to her in which sister Joan chittister asks, What are you going to do about it? So here is a little description of that show is really powerful. And I will link to a little clip of that broadcast. So author, activist and benefit Benedictine nun, Sister Joan chittister discusses her newest book, The time is now a call to uncommon courage. In a powerful conversation. Sister Joan defines what it means to be a prophet in today’s modern world, and challenges us to combat complacency and apathy in our own lives. She outlines the key steps we can all take to lift America and the world out of its current state of polarization and political disarray. rather than wait for others to solve the problems of inequality, injustice and poverty. Sister Joan explains why it is both our moral and spiritual responsibility to take action ourselves, making the world a better place for all. And the question that sister Joan asks is, what are you going to do about it? And that is what I I love that about their conversation. And that is my goal, today is is not to tackle the big systemic issues. So again, we’re not focusing on the macro level. We’re focusing on the micro so I want to invite you to meet in the field, as Rumi encouraged us to encourages us to do I invite you to move beyond right and wrong and find a way to connect with others and to use your voice to talk about things that concern you to use your ears to listen and to understand. I want to challenge you and I want to challenge myself with the question from Sr chittister. And ask What are you going to do to address the political polarization and chaos? That is reigning supreme? My hope is to give you some tools to help you in that process. So from Edmund Burke hidden in an English statesman, sometimes this was attributed to Gandhi, but it’s actually from Edmund Burke. He said, The only thing necessary for tribe is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men. I would also say good women to do nothing. And isn’t that true? So I want to give you some, some solutions, some skills of what can you do? So to answer sister Jones question, what are you going to do to address the political polarization and chaos that is reigning supreme? What are you going to do about poverty? What are you going to do about polarization and disarray, rather than waiting for others to speak up and address it? And so I firmly believe that we, we use our lives. And so today, I want to talk about that in terms of your body, how you, what are you going to do about it. So the first thing is, I want you to use your eyes, I want you to look in the mirror. And let me just be super clear about this. I am talking to myself too. So when I say you, I mean me, use your eyes, look in the mirror, do your own work first. And always, you’ve got to make a commitment to the ongoing work of self awareness. So when we consider divisive issues, whether around race, culture, politics, religion, religion, like I said before, these carry boulder sized blind spots, they just do because we cling to our beliefs, they’re comfortable, they’re safe, it is so uncomfortable, to look at beliefs that oppose our own.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:14
And so we resist looking at beliefs that are different than our own. And so because of that, we just have huge blind spots. And so you really need to have some daily, or at least very consistent habits of self awareness, to help you manage your blind spots. And let me just tell you, this, we all have blind spots, none of us are immune, no one is immune from having blind spots. So a couple of recommendations here in terms of using your eyes. So reading that helps you look in the mirror journaling, examining your emotional response responses to events happening around you. So you know, when you listen to something on the news, do you find yourself getting defensive? Do you find yourself saying like, I don’t want to hear about this anymore, because it’s making me uncomfortable, or it’s challenging my worldview, pay attention to your emotional responses, examining your biases, your judgments, and your thoughts about events in the media, be willing to pay attention to your first response, and dig a little bit deeper. So right. This is the theme, one of the themes is leading with curiosity. And so with this, pay attention to your first response and be willing to dig a little bit deeper, be willing to get curious about Okay, what was that? What What was that response about? Like, how come? How come I got angry? When I heard about that media report? What was that about? So just be willing to be curious about your emotional responses. Be willing to look at your judgments, be willing to look at your first responses. Another recommendation with use your eyes is to seek feedback, ask others to help you improve and listen. So I want to be really clear that it’s not others responsibility to help you improve. But if you have someone who is generous, and who is willing to help you be better, then you better dang well listen. Right. If you have someone who is willing to help you, and who is willing to give you feedback, then that is a generous soul and take them up on that. Take in the feedback. No one’s perfect. We all need feedback. It’s not their responsibility. It’s not their job. But if you have someone who is generous with their time and with their energy and is willing to give you feedback, you better damn well listen. Okay, so that was use your eyes and look in the mirror, do your own work first and always. And then the second one is to use your ears. So seek first to understand, always, always, always, so seek to understand, most of us hide behind defensiveness, we get defensive off often because we feel attacked. So maybe you feel like others are calling you racist. Or bigoted, which, right? I mean, if you feel like you’re being attacked, it’s understandable that you would get defensive. So you know, you tend to get defensive. And in that moment, you shut your ears, you fail to listen, and you fail to understand the experience of the person sitting across from you. And this is one of the biggest ways that civil discourse falls apart. Because, you know, we get into defense mode, and attack mode. And so I just kind of want to break this down for you. So you can kind of hopefully see it and resist this urge to move to defensiveness so that we can pull away from this dynamic of defensiveness and, and attack mode, which, of course, is not helpful at all. Okay, so, of course, you’re only one person in that conversation, but you can take responsibility for your stance. So I want to invite you to shift your stance to drop your defensiveness. And so abandon your point. And so you’re right, like, let go. of making your point, your only point in the conversation is to understand the experience of the other person.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:02
It is not your point to defend your position, it is not your point to have the other person understand your position, your only goal, your only point in the conversation is to understand the perspective of the other. Now that might be really challenging for you to do. But if you can go into a conversation with that goal in mind, it can help you drop your defensiveness and it makes it much more likely that the other person will drop any sort of tendency to attack. Right now we don’t have control over the other person. But it makes it much more likely that that dynamic of defense attack falls away. So to use your ears means I come to you with a desire to understand your experience. That’s it. Right? I can show up for you, and seek to understand your experience, I’m holding space for you, I’m listening to you, I am being fully present for you for another person. So as we think about this, you don’t need to solve anything for the other person. You don’t need to apologize for anything. You don’t need to fix anything. You just hold space. What does that mean? You listen, you can empathize, you can emotionally connect with the other person, you can consider the question, how would I feel if this were me, this is empathy and action. And it connects us to the experience of the other person. So to seek understanding does not mean that you necessarily agree with the other person. And I think that’s such an important point when it comes to empathy. So to seek understanding does not mean that you necessarily agree with the other person. To seek understanding means that you are looking at the world from the perspective of the other. So you are attempting to take a step out of your shoes and into theirs. So an example would be it’s understandable that you came to that conclusion based on your perspective. That’s an example of empathy. To understand doesn’t mean you pass judgment. That’s not your role. No one made you the judge. You are working to view the world from the others perspective, not yours. Your perspective is not is not relevant in that moment when we’re seeking out Understanding, right? So for this purpose right here, it’s to seek understanding. Okay, so that’s what it means to use your ears and to seek to understand. Okay, so now the next one is to use your voice. So we’ve talked about us your eyes, use your ears, and now use your voice. So we think about civil discourse, right, we got to use our, we got to use our ears, we also need to use our voice. So stay what you believe, challenge your fear, challenge the bullies, live to your values, be brave, be willing to have conversations with others, these can be really painful conversations. So one of the things that I’ve seen in recent weeks, and it’s it’s really concerned me is that many good people who care a lot about what is happening, seem to be afraid to speak up because they are worried about being attacked. And I think that there is a real fear about bullying, whether that’s like online, I think mostly that’s online, like in social, social media and that sort of thing. So I just want to share a quick definition of bullying. And let’s just kind of, I just want you to think about it and see what might ring true with maybe what you’ve seen on social media, or in the media. So bullying is the use of force, coercion or threat to abuse aggressively dominate or intimidate the behaviors often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of physical or social power. This imbalance distinguishes bullying from conflict. Bullying is
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:50
a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by the following three minimum criteria. So first hostile intent to imbalance of power, and three repetition over a period of time. Bullying is the activity of repeated aggressive behavior intended to hurt another, individually, physically, mentally, or emotionally. So I think, unfortunately, we can, we’ve maybe seen some bullying. And I think we’ve kind of seen it on all sides, unfortunately. And we can see bullying sometimes happening under the guise of a good message. But corrupt means cannot justify an important message. And so I think that’s, that’s the concern that I have. And so the other thing that I’m seeing in all of this, and it is, it’s part of bullying, and that is shame. Because, you know, people who care about these issues, move to silence because of the fear of bullying. And shame thrives in isolation, and silence. And so when you are silent or feel silenced, due to bullying, or fear of saying the wrong thing, or having the wrong beliefs, that is prime breeding ground, For shame, to thrive. And so that really, really concerns me, shame thrives in silence. And so what we know from the research and some of this research comes from Bernie brown and her team is that the antidote to shame is empathy. So by sharing our stories and connecting with others, we begin to combat shame. So by listening, so go back to ears. By listening to the stories and experiences of others, we build empathy and compassion. So we need to speak shame. In order to overcome shame. We need to make space for others experiences of shame in order to combat shame. And so empathy is a two way street. So we were just talking about using our ears where we listen and seek to understand the experience of others. And that’s really very, very important. But we also need to use our voice, we need to share our stories as well. So we can’t, it can’t just be a one way street. So if you feel silenced, if you feel afraid to share your values. That is a problem. That’s a problem as well. And so part of civil discourse is how do we begin to have conversations that are painful, where you don’t want to hurt someone that you care about? And you don’t want to say the wrong thing. You also don’t want to be shamed. If you know you don’t know what the right thing to say isn’t and I think just that language right there, we want to be careful about but part of civil discourse is to be able to say can we have a conversation and understand what might be hurtful about my statements and seek understanding and, and understand good intent. And that that those can be healing conversations. And those can be powerful, rather than staying silent, out of fear. So how can you begin to use your voice for good? So, one on one conversations, social media, I mean, maybe, maybe, I don’t know, simple clarification in a conversation, redirect, redirecting conversations at home, stopping a bias comment by a family member. There can be lots of examples. So several weeks ago, I found an example on Instagram. And this is she’s awesome. So let me let me find this. I’m pulling it up on my Instagram, I shared it to my stories. And then I also shared it with someone yesterday in a DM and she is. Let’s see, her name is ever Ellie, I’m sorry. I so apologize. I know I’m not pronouncing her name, right. But it’s I the I r l. e, i. And she, she has a lot of good things. But she has an igtv it’s white women who truly want to help. Here’s how. And it’s an igtv, where she talks about.
Dr. Melissa Smith 36:39
She talks about what what you can do and it’s what I really loved about it is is what can you do in your own lives. You can call out bias comments in your own family, you can teach, teach these values in your own home. And I thought that was really powerful, because it’s it’s exactly the antidote that we need against hopelessness and helplessness and that overwhelm. And it’s so easy to fall along when you’re silent. But when you speak up and discover you’re not alone, and that others do agree with you, and are grateful for your voice that can be really very wonderful. And then, of course, this concept of Meet me in the field. So I recently posted this quote from Rumi on the beautiful quote that I shared earlier, beyond, right and wrong, there is a field beyond right and wrong, there is a field, I’ll meet you there. And I had a lovely woman in the community, send me a message. And she just said, I would love to connect with you about this topic. And so just recently, we had a great conversation. And she talked about an idea see, for how can we support civil discourse in our community. And so you know, we’re just in the very beginning stages of this process. But we are working together to see about bringing, in particular women together to help them have these conversations where they can, where they can begin to have civil discourse about really painful and frightening topics. And so there are ways that you can use your voice for good. And you know, that can be on one on one conversations that can be in your home that can be in social media. So there are lots of ways that we can do that. And then the next way, so we’ve talked about, use your eyes, use your ears, use your voice, the next one, I want to talk about his use your hands. So get involved in your community, your neighborhood and develop meaningful relationships with those around you. healing happens in the context of relationships. So how can we heal when others remain strangers to us, we need to serve we need to love we need to connect with those around us. So it is that simple. And it is that difficult. Most of us never do this one thing that could heal so much. So where are the common gathering spaces in your community? Are there any that are remaining? So can you help to create some Can you contribute to some so that’s, that’s what this lovely woman and I are working to create, create a community. So this is a quote from sister Joan chittister. It is in community that we come to see God in the other. It is in community that we see our own emptiness filled up. It is community that calls me beyond the pinched horizons of my own life, my own country, my own race, and gives me the gifts I do not have within me So for those of you leading a team or working with a team and an organization, I just want you to think about how you can help to build community for those you work with. And sometimes it’s just opening a conversation about this and just acknowledging and saying, like, it’s okay for us to talk about this. And you know, there doesn’t have to be pressure around that. But are you creating space for these conversations to happen,
Unknown Speaker 40:26
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:27
talk more about that in the podcast about daring leaders are never silent about hard things. And so if you want to reference back to that podcast, I have some more direction for you in that. And then the next recommendation, the next solution I have for you is to use your brain, of course, always. So I want you to think critically about what you are hearing around you. Avoid echo chambers and belief systems that only support ideas that please you. And boy, we are in such danger of this, our world is so polarized, that we are in grave danger of living in echo chambers. So you need to challenge and stress test your beliefs, and see how they hold up. And I’m just telling you, most of us don’t do this. We, we, we live in our own echo chambers. And we only listen to podcasts or books, or commentators or news outlets or read in the media ideas that support our beliefs. And everything is so polarized that that’s easier than ever to do. And it’s not good for us. It’s not good for our society, it’s not good. For our country, it’s not good for our world, you’ve got to be willing to challenge everything you hear. So debate ideas and recognize the value of healthy debate. There’s nothing wrong with that there’s so much good that comes from that. So don’t be afraid of ideas. And don’t be afraid of stress testing your beliefs that you should, you should be willing to do that. So it’s natural to align with those who share your views and your values. But it can also be pretty dangerous. So of course, you end up in that echo chamber. And increasingly, our media and communities are so polarized, that we just don’t have many common spaces, where we mix and mingle with those who share different views. And really, I just, I think this is one of the reasons that civil discourse is falling apart. Like this is actually one of the things that concerns me the most, for kind of where we’re at. So this is the thing we should not be afraid of, of ideas. So this is from Winston Churchill, no idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching, but at the same time, a steady idea. So don’t be afraid of ideas. Do not be afraid of ideas. And then this is from Victor Hugo, there is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world. And that is an idea whose time has come. Of course, we know Victor Hugo was talking about a time of revolution. So a few ideas when we think about using your brain. So gather with those where you are in the minority. So what is this like for you be a curious observer, there is much to learn. And you may have much to offer. So you can you can add a really valuable perspective to those conversations. listen to podcasts that challenge your views, read books that push your thinking, and force you to defend or rethink your convictions. Like I do this all the time. And it’s really, it’s been so good for me. And it makes me a better thinker. It makes me a more critical thinker. And it strengthens my convictions. And it also helps me to stress test my beliefs. And it’s really good and we should not be afraid of beliefs. We should not be afraid of ideas. Like we just got to be willing to stress test our beliefs. So read articles or news outlets that challenge your views, and then form your own opinion. So another thing you could do, you could play devil’s advocate after reading or listening to something that is consistent with your health belief. So what are the valid points of the opposing view? and be willing to hold your belief lightly. So you know, don’t strangle your own belief don’t hold it so rigid That you can’t see light between yourself and that belief. Another thing that I think is so important, and I’m kind of concerned right now, because of what I’m seeing relative to this is be a student of history.
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:19
You know, I’m, if you’ve listened to any of the podcasts, I’m super geeky about books and history, in particular, be a student of history, it has so much to teach us, it provides incredibly valuable perspective that can teach us so much about how to proceed in the present. And honestly, like, it can remind us to calm the hell down. I mean, it can remind us that not all revolutions are bad. And right I mean, not all revolutions are good either. And it can be dangerous to eliminate reminders of past atrocities. Because when those reminders are gone, we lose the opportunities to teach the next generation, the incredibly important lessons of that time. And we cannot rewrite history through the lens of the present. But we must be willing to learn from the past, like we can’t rewrite history, and we got to learn the lessons. So we have two choices with history. And I just wanted to say that this is, you know, absolutely informed, by my perspective as a trauma specialist. So when we think about history, we have two choices, we can dissociate from our history. And to dissociate means to cut ourselves off from our history, to eliminate all reminders of our history that are presently repugnant to us. So whether that’s statues, symbols, etc, in an attempt to cancel or to do not to deny their existence. But when we cut off part of our history, we cut off part of ourselves, our story, our lessons, our growth, our challenges. And yes, even our suffering. In doing that, when we disassociate ourselves from our history, we deny part of our humanity, we cannot do this, we must not do this, to retain our history is not necessarily to honor that history. But it’s to learn from it so that we don’t repeat it. We cannot abandon the lessons that history has for us, we need those reminders. The second choice is to integrate our history, to learn the lessons from our history, so that we can understand that time. And that history is always, always contextual, just as our lives are, it’s not fair to look back at history. From our present perspective. We can’t do that. We can visit duck cow with her children. And we can discuss the Holocaust in solemnity, and have an incredibly moving experience. We can walk through the halls in cow and we can still smell we can still smell the smells in the cow. And we can watch as our children are moved to tears. And we can see them having an experience with history that they could never ever read in a book. And that is only because we have kept Dachau in place. Because we have refused to bulldoze it. Because we have we have set it is important that our children learn these lessons so that we never repeat. We never repeat the atrocities of the Holocaust. We can’t refuse our children the lessons and the emotional pedigree of loss and compassion that comes from walking the grounds of dead cow
Unknown Speaker 49:40
that comes from
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:44
from understanding the legacy of slavery in America. We must find a way to integrate our history if we are to retain our humanity if we are to be compassionate. If we are to see one another as humans, and not just as names in a book, but as living human breathing humans that slept
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:22
on, on boards
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:31
it’s the only way to retain our humanity. We cannot abandon our history. We’ve got to use our brains. And finally, we’ve got to use our hearts. Use your heart. To see another as you see yourself is the heart of compassion. Above, I talked about using your ears to seek understanding, to listen doesn’t mean you necessarily agree with another. And that is so true. That here, as I talk about using your heart, I want to talk more specifically about what it means to have compassion for another, to actually love another person. And here’s the thing, you know, we do not talk about love enough. But honestly, this is what’s going to heal us. I’ve said it before. healing happens in the context of relationships. healing happens when we are truly seen by another. When another person says, I see you, you matter, your experience matters, your beliefs matter. Your suffering matters. This counts on every side of the challenges we are facing right now. Many people are feeling silenced, many people are suffering. So from bell hooks, and her excellent book, all about love. She said redeemed and restored. Love returns us to the promise of everlasting life. When we love, we can let our hearts speak. And another quote from her everywhere we learn that love is important, and yet we are bombarded by its failure. This bleak picture in no way alters the nature of our longing, we still hope that love will prevail, we still believe in loves promise. I still believe in loves promise, but we cannot look to others for the healing that we seek. It is on each of us. It’s on you. And it’s on me. So again from sister Joan chittister hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside of us to get better. It is about getting better inside, about what is going on outside. So it will be found in the hearts of good people everywhere, who are brave and speak up about right and wrong, who defend the defenseless who challenge groupthink, and who can ground their daily actions in deeply held values. This is the only way to avoid the hypocrisy, the moral relativism that we see on every side, everyone’s guilty of it. I see it everywhere I look. And I’m really, really troubled by it. And I also want to, I feel like I need to be really clear about this. For anyone who might be trying to read between the lines that I’m troubled by what I’m seeing on the left, and I’m troubled by what I’m seeing on the right. Everyone has blood on their hands, we’re losing our humanity, everyone’s guilty. So ultimately, if we are to heal what is broken, we must come to see that while each individual is unique, and each story is important and compelling and deserves to be told, ultimately, the person sitting across from me is like me, that I can understand her pain because in her eyes, I see my own pain. So we’re all I can appreciate what is inherently unique in the story of the other, just as I can appreciate what is inherently the same in the story of the other. We are one and separate together. So we’ve got this inherent paradox in there. But it’s it’s beautiful and it’s powerful, and we will only heal as we come together. So Meet me in the field. Beyond right and wrong. There is a field I’ll meet you there. So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-62. One more time www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-62. And of course I will link to the podcast on daring leaders are never silent about hard things. I will also link to the podcast on empathy and resilience. I think that can also be helpful for these conversations. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work in love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai