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Compassionate Dialogue

Sep 13, 2021

I can’t stop thinking about what is going on in the world. The violence that recently started in the US and has now rolled across the globe is a cry for change. I am saddened, angered, disappointed, and hurting for my non-white friends. 

During this time, I have sat, watching and listening, with my thoughts and feelings, wondering how I can help make a difference. I have always had friends of color. I have always spoken up when someone made a racial slur. I have actively worked to create opportunities to both learn more and subsequently teach more about cultural differences.

So, now, I keep asking myself, what more can I do? How can I bring compassion to the conversation? Then I realized that that is exactly what I can do. Invite compassionate conversation. With that thought, I would like to suggest a slight shift in the current discussions. 

I would propose that as we start focusing on dialogue, we remember that one half of a conversation is listening. Active listening requires patience and it requires honoring space and someone else’s energy. Another part is speaking truth. Speaking truth is different than speaking about projected feelings and beliefs. For example:

Truth – the system is set up to suppress non-white people. 

Belief – the system is out to “get me”.

Truth – the system needs to be either fixed or dismantled and rebuilt.

Belief – we’ll never be able to fix the system. We don’t have enough power.

If, while we are in conversation, we are deliberate in listening fully and speaking our truth, then, I believe we can start to shift the collective consciousness. 

As I invite you into conversation, I invite you to reflect on a couple of questions: what legacy would you like to leave your children and grandchildren? What impact would you like to have on the future? And finally, (with those two questions in mind), what are some steps to start the process of making change?

We can, collectively, shift the conversation from victim/aggressor to healing, shifting and growing, thus affecting real change in an otherwise broken system.

I know that there is a lot I don’t know. For example, just last year, while speaking to a friend (who happens to be black), I was told that saying the phrase “I don’t see color” was a privileged statement and implied that I don’t see people of color at all. She suggested saying “I see through color.” She knew what my intentions were and that they were pure and therefore educated me on a slight shift that made a big difference.

What I do know is that by taking the time to listen to her speak her truth, I made a shift in my language. Thus allowing us engaging in compassionate conversation, we were able to build a stronger bridge between us. 

Let’s start with listening, fully, energetically, viscerally. And maybe we’ll learn.


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