We humans have a built in biological need to name and sort every single thing we encounter, whether they are people, behaviors, emotions, animals, plants, inanimate objects, fungi, storms, illnesses, etc.
On one hand classifying allows us to make that comfortable personal connection and identify kindred spirits, however, in many instances assigning a label is equal to placing judgment on them. In a very simple way, this automatic categorization makes it easier to discredit them and in that instant of identifying the differences, we have created “the other”. They are not like me and they don't think like me; therefore, I can disregard, ignore, ridicule, and dislike them.
Governments, religions, businesses and organizations have long ago learned to capitalize on this basic human biological characteristic by developing propaganda that perpetuates the cycle of identification, distrust, formation of alliances, and hate.
How then can we escape the trap so easily set by our own natural inclinations?
I believe that becoming aware of this tendency is probably the first step. Every time you find yourself sharing a political post or making a comment on another post, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Is this something that will bring all people together or will it divide us even further?” Whenever, you have that awareness that the person in front of or beside you is completely different from you, smile and meet their eyes. If you find yourself automatically labeling someone you see walking down the street, stop and recognize your behavior.
And when you are ready, go even further:
Be willing to ask questions, when you hear something that strikes you as disrespectful or senseless.
Be willing to be the person who stands up for all those others who are not able to defend themselves. Be willing to identify an injustice and challenge the misconduct behind it.
Be willing to make those personal connections that may feel uncomfortable.
Be willing to walk in another's shoes.
Be willing to be the person who sends unconditional love into the world.
It can be that simple- Send kindness. Send humility. Send your humanness. Send your creativity. Send your fierceness. And yes, send your love without expectation and you will be surprised at what comes back.
This profound message Love People!, painted by a very wise eight year old, is prominently displayed on the wall at DRC.
*This one is a bonus. I simply felt like writing last night and this is what came out.