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As Far As The Eye Can See

During these past few years, we’ve awakened – especially here in North America.  Injustices and inequities that continue to persist in our society, in our communities have been exposed and voices of change have been amplified in ways that seem and feel substantially louder, more genuine, more heartfelt, and more urgent than in the past.  Our hope is that this ‘awakening’ will create a more just society and empower all of us to fight for a better world.

Grassroots movements have emerged and blossomed into major campaigns to stand with – the MeTooMovement, BlackLivesMatter, the Indigenous Residential Schools “Every Child Matters” and ugly prejudices to stand up against – Anti-Asian hate, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism.   And the list goes on.   Atrocities and divisions,  as far as the eye can see.

And then there are those who barely have a voice at all –  migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, child-rape victims in India, refugees in sprawling camps in Africa and the Middle East, the Rohingya, the Uyghurs, democracy movements in Hong Kong, Myanmar, and elsewhere.    We’re grappling with all manner of environmental destruction, misogyny, systemic racism, colonial legacies, divisive politics, social media manipulation, fake news.  Injustices and tragedy, as far as the eye can see. 

Walking in someone else’s shoes

All in the middle of a monumental health crisis and pandemic that affects every one of us.  In this crisis, in this mayhem, we are all one.  The biological creature that we are, the anatomy, this organism we call human, is equally vulnerable and susceptible to the COVID-19 virus. This infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Here we are all the same.  As far as the eye can see.

The contradiction is palpable.  Obvious.  And so appropriate.

Because it turns out that each of us is, in essence, a contraction.  A mish-mash of hopes and fears, of strengths and weaknesses, of black and white, of happy and sad.  We’re always somewhere in between.  Between kindness and unkindness, between generosity and stinginess, between good and bad.  All of us.  No one is purely good.  And no one is purely bad either.  We are all much more than that.  We carry our fears, insecurities, and tragedies inside, along with our victories, pride, confidence, the love we’ve received, and the love we give. Complex humans full of contradictions. For better and for worse.

Let’s remember this when we begin to categorize.  When we judge whole groups of people, humans.  “Immigrants”, “LGBTQ+”, “Millenials or Zoomers”, “Palestinians”, “Environmentalists”, “Upper Middle Class”, “Black Canadians”.   It’s so tempting to label and organize away our individual complexities.  Stereotypes, crude approximations so that we don’t have to think.  So much easier to judge a whole group.  “Old white men”.  “Young activists”.   But if we really want to be fair and further a just society and world, we need to work harder.  Try to see each other’s perspectives, walk in each other’s shoes, or at least be open to listening to what that might be like.   Hear the full story, not just the highlights or snippets. 

Contemplate our humanity, one individual at a time.  We all want to be heard and seen for who we are on the inside.  Look forward, beyond our grievances.  Connect with each other.  Begin to understand and respect the many ways of perceiving our world.    As far as the eye can see.

Be a light, not a judge.  Be a model, not a critic.  Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Steven Covey, Author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
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