In a recent discussion of racism, I was asked some questions that deserved detailed response. I thought I’d do that here on the blog, and then link this to the thread.
“Are you up for sharing some of your anecdotes for what makes you think it’s diminishing and dying off?”
I did NOT say racism is “dying off.” I said “diminishing.” My anecdotal evidence? Numbers of mixed couples seen on the streets around the country and in media. Huge indicator in my book. In general, media images people are paying to see: I consider that a measure of unconscious preferences, and in television, film, or anywhere else, there is simply no comparison, no slightest similarity in frequency and variety of non-white images between now and my own childhood: a single human lifetime. I consider that positive indications of how people feel and think, in their hearts.
“I’m also curious: Do you get to choose the people you surround yourself with?”
Everyone makes choices. Mine optimize my ability to be around people I like. It wasn’t always that way, and I travel broadly and come in contact with all levels of humanity.
“For instance now that I am back in the hospital [works in the medical profession], I have to serve every patient in every room in all the departments I am responsible for.
In private practice I can choose who I see or not, which really reduces the amount of racist and sexist experiences I have…
In the hospital, not so much. I have to see everyone, and that wide net re-introduces me to a swath of people with varying attitudes that I would probably never come across otherwise.
Things that bring me down from my optimism rather quickly and depressingly.”
Trust me: I’m not optimistic because I’m surrounded by people who mirror my point of view.
I’m optimistic because I have a view of reality, and human history, that says people are basically just trying to avoid pain. That anger and violence stem from fear. And that long-term, the strategies and tactics that allow us to avoid pain are the things that we call “good” in life. So, given that, it is reasonable to interpret history as coming together, increasing communication and finding ways to live together peacefully. Interrupted of course by war and slaughter and the wages of fear and evil. Ah, well…still, we have more peace than war, more good than bad overall, or things would break down over the centuries rather than become more complex.
None of this invalidates anyone’s personal experience.
However, that said: remember what I said about the rules of engagement for social change? The first step is to love yourself, and care for yourself. If you are in a stressful life situation, your first job it to take care of YOU. Seek the specific resources that will prevent stress from mutating into strain, which is the damaging part of the spectrum. Here’s a fast suggestion I’ve made countless times:
Every three hours, about five times a day, stop and perform deep, slow, diaphragmatic breathing for sixty seconds.
This single practice will balance your sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems so that the fight-or-flight drives are not out of balance. Then you can add peaceful visualizations, prayer, affirmation, power moves, or anything else. But…five times a day, every three hours, for sixty seconds. The result is amazing.