How does your family love diverse people?
Last week I talked about raising kids who love people who don’t look like them, but I’d like to take it a little deeper this week. Mostly because I’ve been doing a lot of learning myself. I’ve been reading, listening to podcasts, and soul-searching because I really want to be open to any blind spots I may have when it comes to people who are a different race or ethnic group than I am.
I heard a talk by two pastors* this past weekend and I’d actually like to share some of what they said in answer to the question: What does love look like?
Love Looks Like This…
Listen, don’t defend.
“Seek to Understand” has always been a motto in the Meredith house, and it was used often in connection with getting along with coaches, friends, teammates, and family.
But that phrase has taken on a whole new meaning for me as I seek to understand someone whose experiences are totally different than mine, whose skin color is different from mine, and whose view of the world based on their experiences is vastly different than mine.
In order to do that, we must LISTEN. Listen to understand, not to defend or condemn. We should not be trying to win an argument; we should be trying to understand.
Empathize, don’t numb.
Being numb to the pain of others is one of our biggest obstacles to getting along with others. We think that because we don’t see the oppression or the mistreatment ourselves, that it really doesn’t exist. So we grow numb to it.
Just because you don’t see it or experience it doesn’t meant racism is not happening. Listening to my black brothers and sisters in the past few weeks has taught me that racism is still very much around, maybe not as blatant as in the 60s, and maybe not as backward, but it’s still here in the hearts and minds of many people.
As I’ve heard some of the stories, I’ve been deeply moved. NO ONE should be treated the way some of them were. I am angered and saddened, and more than a little amazed at how unaware I’ve been.
The thing about empathy is that it requires you to FEEL. It means we feel sad with our black and brown friends who’ve been hurt. It means we feel anger with our black and brown friends who’ve been mistreated. It means we feel joy with our black and brown friends who experience victory.
But for many of us, it’s just been easier to be numb. Friends, that’s not real love.
Leverage, don’t limit.
Lastly, love looks like action. Love listens and empathizes, but it does not stop there. It does something. And that something is as unique as you are.
You have an opportunity to help heal our country in your own small (or big) sphere of influence. You don’t have to protest if you don’t want to, you don’t have to blast it out on social media if you don’t want to, but you must not be silent.
Leverage your influence to speak out against racism. In your conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. As an employer, a teacher, blogger, and most importantly as a parent. You have influence with someone, so use it to speak up for what’s right. Don’t preach, don’t argue, just challenge their thinking and work to help them see their blind spots.
If there’s one thing I’ve seen in the past few weeks, it’s that honest and hard conversations can go a long way to help in the process of healing and creating unity.
As you listen, empathize, and leverage your influence to help fight racism, your kids will catch the vision and pass it on in their worlds–school, neighborhood, sports.
It’s up to you: Be the spark that gets the fire going in your world of influence.
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*Thanks to Pastor Matthew Keller and Pastor Charles Ross from Next Level Church for having the conversation to spark this post.