“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.”
I love the second sentence of that quote. I keep reading it over and thinking of ways that we do, and don’t, secure space for others to contribute. Either way, it can take just a small act to do either. See if any of these ring true (and when I say ‘you’ in this essay, I don’t mean YOU, fine reader–it just makes for a smoother read than the impersonal “one”):
NOT securing space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that * pick an -ism. Sexism, racism, age-ism, class-ism, partisan-ism. ANY sentence that begins, “I’m not prejudiced, but….”
* stealing the credit for someone else’s idea at work or school.
* allowing competitiveness to overshadow your efforts or those of others. The end doesn’t always justify the means, especially if the “end” you’re aiming for is attention/praise/accolades for yourself.
* dominating class discussions, dinner table conversations, happy hour banter, and meetings with your own discourse while no one else can get a word in and be heard.
* wondering why all those earthquake victims have to come to “our” country.
* name-calling and put-downs of any kind.
Looking back on what I just typed, I see that the above examples would actually be detrimental to both parts of the opening quote–anyone who’s perpetrating any of the above is sabotaging self as well as others’ abilities to contribute the best that they have. Just goes to prove: what you do for others, you do for yourself as well. What you do TO others, same story. If you stomp on others to get to your perceived “top,” whatever that may be, being on top will be pretty bleak (and no doubt very lonely) indeed.
So. How can we contribute the best that we have toward creating a world that supports everyone? And how can we secure space for others to do the same?
* whatever your project, encourage your teammates, celebrate their contributions, and share the glory.
* if you stop actively SEEKING approval, you’ll actually get it. “Hey, look at me, look what I did!” only annoys people and makes others feel small. Just do your thing without the headlines and you’ll be surprised at the coolness that comes your way.
* give sincere compliments to everyone you can. It doesn’t leech anything from your own worth to lift someone up.
* it also takes nothing from your personal greatness when someone else succeeds. It’s really liberating when you allow yourself to take joy in someone’s good news.
* stop talking and LISTEN. Everyone wants to be heard. You’ll make someone’s day, and learn something as well.
* step aside and let someone new lead. Allow others the opportunity to grow and flourish.
* speak up when someone says something unkind or cruel or “ism-ish.”
* whatever your “aisle” may be, reach across it. Smiling.
* behave as if you realize that we are ALL part of the Human Community. Then–realize it as the truth.
We need a world that supports EVERYONE. We can make it happen. Doing whatever we can (each of us), whether by small local acts or sweeping global reforms, will make it so.