There are many terrific ideas being proposed to help our culture include more equality, from improving education, to assigning more mental health professionals to work with the police, and taking to the streets to bring awareness and express dissatisfaction. Most are old ideas. I’ve watched this struggle since I can remember; in the 1960s and 70s there was a similar upheaval for change and healing of the racial disparity. There was much talk and action to address it. Yet here we are, circling back, realizing how our efforts have failed. Why?
One reason is our piecemeal approach, so many programs that affect only a few people. Or ideas like Head Start; an honest effort, but didn’t address the real problem. And equating throwing more money as a solution to problems. More food stamps, more welfare, more school lunches. While much of it is necessary, this still doesn’t address the cause. Legislating to stop discrimination is nice but doesn’t address the problem. Pulling down Confederate statues may help emotionally, but will never address the problem.
Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, lifting the entire society to become more aware, more conscious is the only real solution.
It is the only one that doesn’t continue to slap band aids on a cultural problem. If we continue to be focused on the symptoms and not the cause, we will never get there. And it isn’t the easiest, but it is possible.
What we need to stop doing:
- Stop ostracizing and punishing those who are acting out for or against changes. For using trigger words, for using hateful speech from all views. If they are acting out of ignorance and reflexive fear, they may not learn anything by being disregarded as human beings and not heard. This helps no one.
- Stop mindlessly spending money on our problems. The lack of effectiveness and waste in government spending is disgraceful. We have a multitude of programs at every level of government with little to no progress to show.
- Stop talking and look for positive actions.
What we need to start doing:
- Send good communicators out into the communities. Mental health experts, compassionate conflict resolution experts, educators, and elected officials with the objective of listening, problem solving, and coming up with creative and thoughtful ideas to discover our commonalities and working on our communities together.
- Develop a program that will be taught in all schools that includes conflict resolution, problem solving, stress management, and some type of mindful practice that allows inner reflection and growth in awareness. There are schools across the country doing this now, but they are few and far between.
- Have everyone brainstorm to come up with a better plan to help the lowest socioeconomic sectors and finally stop the perpetuation of poverty generation to generation.
- Prison reform. A thoughtful plan to bring the non-violent offenders into programs that increase their success in life through education, problem solving etc.
By raising awareness, or consciousness, in a significant number of people in society, systemic problems like racism will wane naturally because we grow in self-reflection, empathy, and broader perspectives. We will develop an ability to listen to diverse opinions without reacting negatively. With compassion and care for everyone, we will all rise.
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash