I’ve often felt one of the reasons we move forward, or move backward, as a society is by how much time we spend with others outside our usual bubble. Our usual bubble is family and close friends, those we hang out with in our free time.
Many studies show when we stretch our boundaries and are around people not like us, we become more empathic towards the plight of others. The more we stay in our bubble, usually, but not always, our beliefs are mirrored back to us without too much pushback on a statement or belief.
I also think the reason we get elected officials who don’t care about the typical person living in the U.S. is because they no longer hold town halls, or get out of their car and walk the neighborhoods of their districts. Most likely they aren’t even driving the roads most of their constituents traverse every day.
For each of us, but especially politicians, I wonder when was the last time you…
- Volunteered at a food bank, pantry, or soup kitchen. Doing so gives a perspective of not only how blessed you yourself may be, but also gives you perspective on how many people are hurting for food security right now. When you see a thousand cars come through in three hours, you get to see who needs food and it isn’t the stereotypical person you might believe it to be.
- Visited and helped out at a school. What school is like today is not like what school was like twenty, ten or even five years ago. The basic structure is there, but how instruction is delivered, the behaviors teachers must contend with every day, and what needs to be taught has grown exponentially over the years, as well as what we lay at the feet of our educators each and every day.
- Ridden a bus to get anywhere in town. Not everyone has the luxury of a car, nor can afford a parking space every day due to low wages. Did you notice how long you had to wait, how well the driver treated you, whether you had to stay standing, and how people behaved towards one another, especially towards women and people of color?
- Taken a ride through an inner city neighborhood, noting what stores are available (or what stores aren’t available), the shape of the houses and the roads, and what activity you observed. How did it compare to your neighborhood?
- Befriended someone who doesn’t look or think like you to discover over time your commonalities, and your differences?
- Read or watched something that took you out of your comfort zone for more than a few minutes?
If you haven’t done any of the above actions, or similar actions, I invite you to do so. Nothing helps us see the plight of our fellow Americans than seeing, experiencing, and getting to know others unlike ourselves than to step outside our normal boundaries. If we don’t see how bad it is to help it get better, or to see how good it is and see what could be possible with systemic change, then nothing changes, and that is not a good thing. It only continues to feed the divisiveness and enables one to continue the false narrative that everything is okay, when it most definitely is not!
If you are an elected official, a teacher, or law enforcement, I doubly invite you to do one of the things above. It will help you do your job better, and you will feel better about the many ways you can, and should, help those whom depend upon you.
We, and when I say we I mean white, middle class, or wealthy people, need to take our heads out of the sand to see, acknowledge, and be aghast at what we see around us happening to our fellow Americans each and every day. We must do this to then partner with them, and with organizations, to help lift everyone up for a better life. Not only is it the right thing, the moral thing, the ethical thing, and the spiritual thing to do. It is admittedly, a selfish thing to do as well. When others in society are lifted up, we are all lifted up, we are all more successful, and we are all more the better for it.
Please take me up on my invitation, then accept the second invitation to take action to help improve all of our lives.
Let’s start moving closer to the ideal of our becoming a more perfect union in which all of us are created equal.
I’m in! Are you?