A New Path to Inclusion: Addressing Systemic Issues
Denying that systemic issues exist is much like being a climate denier in this day and age. There is tangible proof of issues that have existed for years. Organizations don’t have equal leadership representation across gender, race/ethnicity, or any other standard we want to measure; laws are written that exclude rights and ensure inequities for portions of the population; and on and on.
Reasonable, logical (yes, mostly majority) people have got to get to the point of saying, “Yeah, okay these do exist,” and stop getting offended by the fact that they do. Reasonable, logical (yes, mostly non-majority) people need to stop jumping to conclusions about things being systemic, because sometimes people make mistakes and say stupid things because they’re uneducated and ignorant. And reasonable, logical people (both majority and non-majority) need to stop the finger-pointing and blaming.
The fact of the matter is, we’re all part of the same system. We all play into it, no matter which side we’re on. It doesn’t matter if you understand the game or not. Scientists still don’t understand how gravity works, but we’re all still subject to it. In the same way, we are all subject to a system of inequity and exclusion. The question is, when will we all wake up and no longer play into it?
The issues of our system cause stress. When we judge each other and argue with each other, we are under stress. When non-majority folks are passed over for a job or other economic opportunities because of who they are, it causes stress. When majority folks don’t value equity and equality and exclaim, “They’re taking our jobs!”, they are under stress.
No organism can live in stress and survival indefinitely without consequences to their health. And when individuals are unhealthy, the system itself becomes unhealthy.
We’ve had a very unhealthy system for a very long time.
Real change requires finding a new way to do things - not just shoring up and fixing old systems. We can try to teach people all day long how to have conversations and build bridges across differences, but if those bridges are cracked at the foundation, they'll never hold the new structure. The only solution is to tear it down and build anew.
So, how do we do that? Here are the basic skills needed to create change that would benefit everyone:
- Pay attention to where you focus. Our brains don’t know the difference between an event we are experiencing, or one we keep playing over and over in our heads. Whether it’s happening “live” or it’s created, we have the same physical reactions and release the same stress hormones. It’s important to keep our focus on what we want to create.
- Build resilience. Bad things happen to everybody, and we’re often caught off guard when they do. It’s important to have a store of personal energy that can not only see us through those times, but also help us recover from them. Resilience offers us the opportunity to get back on track.
- Learn discernment. Discernment is the key to understanding every issue. Just a few things to start discerning:
- When we’re in survival mode and when we’re not, so we can determine the most effective way to focus our energy.
- When we’re in an environment committed to cooperation and growth and when we’re not, so we have the support we need to express our individual talents and live to our full potential.
- When old habits and ways of thinking are more harmful to us than living with the discomfort needed to bring about change.
- Practice compassion. Compassion isn’t an excuse to ignore all the bad stuff going on. In fact, it may even be more work than our old worn-out way of trying to get things done, because it requires us to actually take time to understand other people from their perspective, not our own.
I’ll take the next few weeks to get into more details about each of these. In the meantime, join me on social media to discuss your thoughts about how we build a new path to inclusion.
©2020 daiOne, LLC/Susan McCuistion