Thursday Thought #138: I Am Prejudiced

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I am prejudiced. I was raised to blindly trust teachers, but learned of many in later years who betrayed the trust and safety of their students. I grew up believing that people with money and white picket fences didn’t have any “real” life problems, later learning how true tragedy can strike any socioeconomic level. I long believed that having mental health issues meant flying off the handle — and that people who smiled and hugged and laughed couldn’t also experience long periods of depression or even suicidal thoughts. Until I didn’t. The meaning of prejudice is just “pre-judgment”. A pre-judgment based on social conditioning or media, or a set of firsthand experiences — regardless of the number. Or perhaps all three factors, and more. Sometimes these pre-judgments are useful. They allow us to quickly assess danger or move toward safety and community. But pre-judging can also be dangerous. It can prevent us from seeing and considering the individual person right in front us. It can fool us into thinking that our outside perception of a person or situation is reflective of the truth in the background. As often as I can, I try to replace prejudice with critical thinking. It’s very easy to fall back into heuristics, to let an automatic reaction or a pattern of behavior dictate how we treat other people or how we even engage social issues. So bringing our prejudices to the table and exposing them will allow us to connect with people more quickly, and understand where they’re coming from. But more importantly, it allows us to build solutions to complex social situations. I am prejudiced. And I always will be. But so are all of us. The question is, what will we do about that? How can we engage other without malice to bring…

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Thursday Thought #135: Capturing Your Vision

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“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” – Gospel of Thomas Have you ever had a vision? A vision to create something that does not exist. Something that’s true to your essence and perhaps lies in a core desire. There’s an energy that calls us towards the things that we believe in — the things that were made perhaps only for us. Sometimes those callings don’t make sense to the outside world. Sometimes they don’t even make sense to us. But we follow them nevertheless. They don’t always lead to points of satisfaction. Sometimes, they lead to points of frustration, disappointment, even pain. Visions can be heavy yearnings experiences. It’s hard to relate a concept that’s in our minds and in our soul — one that feels as real as the objects right in front of our eyes — to another human being who does not see the same experience from within ourselves. It can feel like rejection when someone doesn’t buy into an idea that you believe has a real merit for beauty and power. Vision requires belief and a faith in yourself and your muse. It comes with the wonderful exaltation of the feeling of completing something that is meaningful to you. And if you birth it…it just might change the course of someone’s life, or of aneighborhood, or of an epoch. Vision is the voice that says someday. For if you do not birth what you see, no one else will ever see what you had the gift of beholding. #Thursdaythought

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Thursday Thought #132: The Power of a Name

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“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” — J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone What’s your name? When a new entity enters into the world, its christened with the same small ritual that has solidified every being since time immemorial: it’s given a name. There’s a lot of power in naming. Things that are nebulous and dark are able to haunt us in the shadows of our memory or perhaps even the caverns of the real world — formless, intangible, ineffable. . Whole civilizations have been tormented by nameless specters. But giving something a label — a name — strips it of its mystery and perhaps even some of its danger: a ghost, a mental ailment, a devastating sickness. It helps the mind to put a container around fear and arms it with a particular plan of action. Names can also help us work through emotional pain and trauma. “It was abuse.” “I was betrayed.” They help to open up a path to closure. They bring definition to healing. However, names can also be restricting. They can deceive us into thinking that a certain label is now an identity we have to adhere to. A simple label given in early can confer an inescapable identity for years to come — one that may not even serve us. So we must take care of the power of names. For, like so many powerful things in this world, they have the equal power to confer life — and also to destroy it. Making the unknown…known. That’s a world-shifting prospect .

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Thursday Thought #70: Context

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Margaret Atwood once said that “Context is all.” We are all informed by the tenets of our cultural landscape. What we hold to be  precepts of living are dictated by the assumptions and invisible rules that are assimiliate within us from birth. But everything is context.  Our beliefs on customs of race, class and gender semi; our beliefs on how much to prioritize family and friends versus work; our beliefs on how much we connect with nature…is all environmentally informed. We are not taught to think critically about these beliefs. Were not taught to examine which beliefs we proactively desire to adopt and which ones are just there because they are passive vestiges of times longsince gone. Oftentimes the best way to get a good grip on the structures of our context is actually to remove ourselves from it. Placing yourself in a new environment with different value systems and belief sets will expose to you which beliefs of yours are actually just assumptions It will also expose the power of cultural relativism: the idea that it’s difficult to judge but customs or effects of a different culture without actually understanding and immersing oneself in it first. Some things that we may see around the world might seem backwards or ludicrous, but then when we look at the system in which it’s actually entrenched, it reveals itself to make quite a bit of sense. Not everything should be simply accepted because of cultural relativism or empathy for other belief systems; but removing yourself from your assumptions can at least give you the tools to ask the right questions and come up with answers that are empowering to you. It also provides a powerful lens to examine the stories that we tell ourselves about our own identity, and how “true” those…

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Thursday Thought #69: The End

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We are often taught to pursue things that are means, a good salary, recognition, material possessions.. But we are rarely encouraged to pursue things that are ends. The idea of ends is also a constant reminder of life’s suspended fragility. That the putting off of things that are meaningful to us may not be readily available tomorrow. People are ends. Doing the work that is a meaningful to us is an end. Living and creating and exploring and learning and growing are all ends. And yet so often were encouraged to take circuitous paths through a means toward these ends — at times forgetting what all the wandering toil is for. There is always an opportunity to go directly to an end. To take time to enjoy a deep breath or a moment of pause or a moment to look at the world or a moment to connect with the someone who matters to you. And not to get caught up in the cacophony of means. May we pursue the ends — before the end.

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