What I am about to share with you comes from a personal perspective. And I agree; opinions are subjective. Perhaps life is subjective as well. However, our differences do not have to mean that we have to fight or argue.
Deep down, I do believe that we all want the good things. We all want success. We want ease. We want joy and, equally, we want to be valid and enjoyed. We want to be included and regarded.
In most cases, yes, there are exceptions to the norm; however, most people are good at heart. I would argue that there are times when goodness is hard to see. I will say there are times when peace seems more of an impossibility than just unlikely. Nevertheless, as good as people are; even good people are capable of bad things. We all make mistakes. We all say things that we wish we could take back. Ignorance is not prejudice – even if we are. Ignorance isn’t.
Again, I go back to the quote from Twain when he said, “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”
There is something to this. Deep inside the shame-machine, I know there has to be a conscience. I know that there is training behind hatred yet we know the difference between right and wrong. Intellectually, we understand the difference between kind and hurtful.
I have the opportunity to face a specific topic and while I cannot entirely divulge the task at hand, I can say that in short – my task is to professionally address the “Isms” that we face in our life. At the top of the list; of course, I have to address racism. Then of course, there is sexism and classism. There are other isms that plague us; but again, I have to start at the top of the list. I have to build a competent platform to help withstand these isms. In fact, we all have to withstand; as in to stand or hold against, to oppose, to defy and to resist.
If we are good or if we want to be good, then this foundation is our first line of defense. In short, there will always be hate. There will always be blame and there will always be finger pointing. There will always be social, economical and educational snobbery. And yes, there will always be something to contend with. There will always be insecurity, which is food for those who look to influence their social isms. There will be doubt, worry and the wonder if something will come along to take everything away, simply because this is us.
There will always be a blockage of some kind; however, if I am good – or better yet, if we want to be good, and by good I mean if we want to reach our best possible potential – than no matter what comes, no matter what is said, no matter what happens and no matter what odds are stacked against us – even if our desired outcome appears unlikely; or even if all hope seems lost; no matter what the case may be – when all else fails we have to respond to all matters by being consistent and persistent. Therefore, quitting is not an option. Allowing ourselves to submit or break due to inaccurate predictions is no longer acceptable.
We cannot worry about what someone else says or thinks. We cannot be intimidated by what someone else brings to the table. Instead. we will look within ourselves. We will understand our own abilities and should we need to advance or improve then we will advance and improve because no one has the right to prevent us from bettering ourselves.
We cannot give in to the thought patterns which divide us because yes, many of these isms are forms of social and emotional terrorism – and what is terrorism intended to do? The answer is to divide and conquer. If we give in or if we believe in the momentum of these thoughts or if we submit to the ideas or connect to a thought process that weakens us or places us in a subservient or subordinate level -or if we give in to the idea that somehow we are less than or seen as less than – then we run the risk of making this so.
Or, we can respond by realizing our worth. We can respond by acknowledging the value of our ability. We can move forward, regardless of the obstacles, and we can overcome whatever limitations have been set for us. Above all things, we can honor ourselves by continuing. We can improve ourselves by refusing to give in. By honoring our worth and offering ourselves at least a semblance of integrity, we can defy the inaccurate stereotypes, opinions, predictions and projections of our supposed future. We can abandon doubt and relinquish the blockages that prevent us from moving forward; but above all, we can ignore the proposed ideas that keep us from our best possible potential.
I say that I have been faced with antisemitism. I can say that I have seen the face of hate.
Right in front of me, dead-on, and in full disclosure; I have seen racially motivated violence. I have seen hate come from both sides. I have seen racism. I have seen sexism. I have seen ageism, which is not limited to the older generations. I have seen young talent be squashed by the inaccurate assumptions that say, “What do you know? You’re just a kid!”
Ageism attacks from all sides. So does racism.
So does pessimism and cynicism.
We have seen what the constructs of our mind can do and how this can limit us. We have seen people give in to their hate as well as the hatred that was intended to move towards them.
We have all seen this up close and personal.
I have seen this both as a parent and as a child. I have witnessed the cancellation of good, strong candidates in this world who, if given the chance, would love to create change and broker peace. If given a shot, there are people who would love to stand against and withstand the pressures that come with the social ills. There are people who would love the opportunity to show what they can do and yet, there are obstacles known as isms that stand in their way.
In my life (and I am sure in yours as well), I have been faced with adversity. I have been faced with judgment. I have hit walls that prevented me from reaching opportunities because of who I am, what I look like, or where I went to school (or didn’t). Yet, as many times as I was told, “Nice try son,” the one thing I never allowed anyone to do is to hold me back or tell me, “I can’t!”
I have not, cannot, must not and will never allow anyone the right to dictate or determine my life, my future or my happiness. This is my antivenom. Rest assured, much of the isms that impact our life are venomous.
No one has the right to limit me. Nor does anyone have the right to limit you.
I do not have the right to stop myself from living. I might have quit on a few occasions. I might have given in – but for me to be me or for us to be us, we have a personal responsibility to be our best possible selves – and should someone tell you (or I) that we “can’t” or that we’re too old or too young or that we didn’t go to the right school – our job in this life is to find the secret of our endurance. We have to reach a level of understanding in which we know our worth. And thus, we come to the understanding of our value. We understand who we are to the exact level; therefore, no one in the world can limit us. No one can ever hurt us. We become impenetrable because we are promoted by our own best efforts. And no one can stop this.
No matter what anyone says, and trust me, people will load for bear if they want to be hurtful – no words or opinions can ever prevent us from reaching our best unless we allow them to.
There was a time when I was told that my hopes of reaching a certain level of professionalism was limited because, in part; I do not fit the professional mold of corporatism. I was told that my level of education was insufficient. I was told that I am unqualified, that I should stick to jails and rehabilitation centers. I was told that, at best, I would reach a low-ranking position, which if this happens, I should count my lucky stars.
However, I declined. I chose to defy these limitations. And so have you. The fact that we are here, living and breathing and the fact that regardless of the limitations people have told us we should submit to – neither you nor I have given in.
I have the honor to address the isms in an upcoming webinar to which I am ready because not all isms are bad. Not if you count humanism. Not if you count altruism. And then there is do-good-ism. I like that one too.
Because years ago, it was predicted that I would never make it out alive, let alone, land a job or find a successful career.
Years ago, I worked for a public initiative and found myself in the company of attention-hungry sharks. These were people who told me that I should “sit this one out” and watch from the sidelines. I was told to stay in my lane.
I rejected this too.
I remember my first paying job when I decided to go private and out on my own. Financially, I earned more with my first contract within two weeks time than I did when I worked for one year in the public sector. I was on the news. I was in the paper. I was flown across the country. And do you know why?
The answer is because I never listened to the isms that predicted my limitations.
As a person in this world, I have been affected by a recent shooting where a man opened fire in a store. This attack was racially motivated and innocent people were killed.
I was thinking about a man who set off a smoke bomb in the subway in Brooklyn. This happened a few months back. After the smoke bomb, the man opened fire at the passengers on the train. Both attacks were racially motivated and each attack was from an opposite side of the spectrum.
As a human, I say this hurts.
I say this is sad.
I say that this promotes the problem and increases the violence.
As a person who has experienced discrimination for various reasons, I shake my head. As a parent of a bi-racial child, I am concerned for my child’s future.
I am concerned for her ability to navigate away from the hate.
But then I say to myself – hate will always be around.
I say that it’s not about the hate but how we respond to it. I say that we are all tasked with isms. My isms might be different. Your isms might not relate to mine. Either way, neither you nor I can allow the destructive nature of any isms to dictate, determine or destroy us.
And as for the other isms – the best ism of all is lifeism.
Lifeism – this is the belief in life. This is the collection of all things, which build meaning to life. This is the 1, 2, and 3, which are the knowledge, wisdom and understanding, which are the basic arithmetic of how to build, support and create a mutually beneficial life of internal peace and reciprocity – and by the way, this can happen.
I’ve seen it.
In spite of fear and anger; in spite of outrage and hate, and in spite of degradation and ignorance – no one can stop us from bettering ourselves.
Not unless we allow them the freedom to do so.