We all like to think of ourselves as open-minded, embracing everyone, regardless of their race, creed, gender, or political leanings, right? With no exceptions, correct? Social class or standing? Apparent “power of influence”? They don’t ever enter our minds to influence how we think of them or treat them!
Well, several television documentaries that I’ve recently watched caused me to ask myself the question: Just how completely and fully do I embrace the idea of inclusivity and diversity in my thoughts and in my actions?
I decided to become still and centered and then pose to myself a few statements and to then rate my responses, selecting from the following possible answers:
1. Always, without exception.
2. Most of the time.
3. Probably more often than not.
4. With maybe a very few exceptions, never.
Here are the questions I asked of myself:
#1 – When I’m around other people, do I feel comfortable just being me and sharing my thoughts?
#2 – When I notice/hear people in a public place (such as in a food market or restaurant) speaking in a foreign language (meaning not in English), do I find myself wanting to shake my head as I hear myself thinking, Why don’t they speak English? Or That’s rude!
#3 – When I watch a television show or happen to see a couple of openly, gay men acting very effeminate, do I shake my head and silently (or not so silently, if I’m at home with my wife) judge them for acting so blatantly gay?
#4 – On the other hand, when I see two openly gay women being affectionate, am I equally bothered by it?
#5 – When I see a TV show that is showcasing mostly non-white actors or celebrities, do I find myself reacting the same as I do for one featuring almost exclusively Caucasian individuals?
#6 – When I witness a family eating out at a restaurant or in any public place and the parents ignore their child/children who are acting out, do I find myself able to observe, dispassionately, without judgment of either the parent or child?
#7 – Can I honestly say I make all my decisions without the need to filter my choice by those things that can set us apart, like race, social or economic standing, level of education, political perspective, or perceived level of success, or gender?
The thing is with questionnaires like this, it can be easy to slip into self-judgment, particularly if the accumulative evidence doesn’t align with how you perceived yourself to be before you completed the survey. So, I encourage you to be compassionate in your findings and simply take them in as fodder for further consideration. Even better than rumination would be to take them into the silence of prayer and meditation and contemplation, knowing the Spirit within will not mislead you.
And probably at least one or two of you may be curious (compassionately, I trust) as to what my answers were to the seven questions I posed. Well, here they are:
#1. Probably more often than not.
#2. Most of the time.
#3. Probably more often than not.
#4. With maybe a very few exceptions, never.
#5. Most of the time.
#6. Probably more often than not.
#7. Most of the time.
Wow! ‘Doesn’t look like I’m ready for sainthood any time soon! The results sort of surprised me because I’ve so rarely had opportunities to be “tested” over the past fifteen months of COVID19-related self-isolation. But the fact that these are the questions which came to mind tells me that they are the ones I needed to look at and that I need to be more aware of what’s going on in my own head, perhaps look a bit deeper as to why these situations trigger me and what that may tell me about myself.
You see, any time we are triggered into reacting against or for something, we have disconnected with who we truly are and we’ve stepped into a consciousness of “me” and “you/them” and that speaks of separation. Our capacity to love, to be understanding, or to be open has become conditional, and that means we’re not being inclusive and there are now some limitations as to our diversity.
Understanding the era and region of the country in which I was raised, these questions don’t exactly surprise me since they reflect those roots and my perceptions of the attitudes expressed, overtly or more subtly, around me.
I do take some measure of self-acceptance in knowing that on a good day I can and do experience near-total-alignment with my Christ self, of who I’ve come here to be. The answers to the survey also serve to keep me humble, a good thing!
And how about you? Are you game to check yourselves out (nobody but you need know the result, unless you decide to share them with someone)? You may even come up with other questions or situations that would be more helpful for you on your spiritual journey. As I often remind myself, please be gentle and compassionate with yourself! Remember, “Silly me! There I go again!”
As always, I aim to serve.
Love and Light, Steven