Something is brewing in me, and I know that if it is brewing in me, it might be brewing in you too. Perhaps we can brainstorm a bit and see what we can produce.
What is brewing is inclusion. All around me I see evidence of exclusion. Sometimes, I admit, some affinity with people of like mind is necessary. Affinity groups they call them. In my area, we have a proliferation of them. I have no problem with affinity groups, but my heart yearns to take things a step further.
What if we stepped outside of our comfort zones?
What if women began doing things with men, and vice versa? What if vegans had gatherings with meat eaters, and vice versa? What if Christians began doing things with people of other religions, and vice versa? What if people of all colors began conversations that were different than the ones we are currently having?
What if there were no need for affinity groups? What then?
Right now, the way I see it.....we’ve got utter chaos going on. And the same old conversations. People retreat to their own spaces, with their own people, in times of chaos. I get that. It is a self protective mechanism. Unfortunately, this kind of retreat is only a short term fix for a long term problem, and ultimately this kind of retreat blocks us from our greater good.
And we have blame going on. Everyone is blaming everyone else for society’s problems. Another protective mechanism. The shadow side of this one is particularly hideous: it keeps us in the problem and only creates more of the same, and sometimes leads to violence.
Then we have control issues. Giant control issues. They are a protective mechanism as well. We have people, in a sort of mega-self protection bubble, trying to control what we eat, whether or not and to what extent we own firearms, reproductive rights, who we choose to have sex with in the privacy of our own homes, whether or not to wear seat belts for crying out loud! With our control and enabling, we’ve created a society of people who can no longer think for themselves. In fact, we’ve created a society of people who don’t even know how to think for themselves, nor do they want to, because it is simply too scary.
Things are getting more chaotic, because we aren’t listening and we are doing the same things over and over again. We aren’t listening to a call that says the conversations have to change and the actions need to change. The blame and the control issues need to stop, and we need to begin having a different conversation. The “us and them” bullshit needs to stop. There is no us and there is no them. There is only we. And the sooner we acknowledge that and begin to explore how we can all get along, the better off we will be.
The answer to chaos isn’t retreat into affinity groups. It doesn’t lie in blaming others, nor in trying to control others. It lies in taking personal responsibility, forgiveness, and willingness to have different conversations.
I’ve taken my own steps towards this. I bring up the topic of how to have a different conversation whenever I have a chance to speak with someone who votes differently than I do, or who believes in a different god than I do, or who is a different gender than me. Right now I consider those conversations to be a bit clumsy, because I have no idea what to say or how to proceed, except that it needs to be said and done differently. It is an exploration that takes willingness, openmindedness and genuine love. I’ve stepped WAY outside my own comfort zone to join an interfaith group, and we are beginning, as a group, to have some different conversations. I also avoid, whenever possible, affinity groups. Yep.....I’ve stopped attending women only functions if at all possible. And I host only inclusive functions. My retreats are always open to men and women, gay and straight and otherwise, Christian and non-Christian. We have common ground, yes we do! I welcome people who eat all kinds of foods into my home, and without trying to control what they eat, I offer something that they can enjoy.
Doing this puts me on a different path than much of the world. I’m forging a new path. Is it uncomfortable? Yep, sometimes. I see people I know and love doing the same old same old, that I have chosen not to participate in, because I want to move to something greater. I make conscious decisions not to participate in things because I want something greater. Perhaps you are there as well. Maybe you’ve been thinking that what you’ve been doing might not be working so well. That is a start. It’s a beginning. Let’s forge a new path together shall we?
And here’s the call to action: Join me. If you are local, come hang out with me. Let’s see if we can come up with something. If you don’t live in the Carson Valley/Tahoe area, there are online options. I can’t do this alone. I need you. Let’s talk.