This week has been tough. It’s hard to stay poised in such a dark time in our country’s history. That’s said I live and breathe emotion. It’s my job. It’s what I do 40+ hours a week. It’s why I’m putting myself out there. It’s how I pay the bills.
As a therapist I’ve often seen two types of people. Those who see how the world fits into their values and beliefs and those who see how their belief systems and values fit into the world. Two very different and opposing viewpoints. Neither side has to compromise their values. However, it’s okay to grow, adapt and change your mind after learning new information. I’m often obsessed with the concept of self-actualization and how this is intertwined with leadership. How can you or I reach our maximum God given potential? Good leaders understand this. Maslow, one of the greatest phycologists of our time stated in 1970 that only 2% of the population ever reaches self-actualization. 15 years ago I took that as a challenge and it’s how I attempt to challenge others.
I grew up a blue-collar farm kid. You get what you work for. If you don’t get what you want, you work harder. That’s what continues to drive me. This is essentially the “boot strap” argument seen by many as the law of the land in my current geographical area. It’s not wrong, but it’s only half right. It’s shortsighted to think this would create good policy for all people. Why? We are not all presented with the same opportunities. We are not all born equal. Person A could work just as hard as Person B but only receive half as much. That’s reality, however it’s understandably hard for person B to conceive this because they work hard and have earned everything they’ve got in life. The point is that this says nothing about Person A. I recognize my privilege, and I don’t feel guilty about it because I’ve built my career on helping marginalized populations and the less fortunate. It’s one of the driving reasons I became a social worker and why I am running for office. Let me explain:
I love basketball. One of my best things about the game is how it brings diverse cultures together for a common purpose. Winning, cohesion and teamwork. My first year of college I lived with three black kids from Minneapolis. It was very much a culture shock. I learned so much that year and none of it was in the classroom. I grew as a human. I sought understand their culture and immersed myself in it. We were one of the same from completely different backgrounds. The sad reality was that we were not one of the same and we lived in different worlds, even while sharing the same crumby apartment. I saw very quickly the contrast between these two worlds. My teammates were presented with different opportunity, treated different by authority. For them unfair, one sided accusations equaled assumed guilt. Innocent until proven guilty? Laughable. I’ll never forgot the lessons learned and most importantly the lifelong connections made. They made fun of me and I laughed at them. Had I never moved from the farm; I would not have this understanding. I wouldn’t be who I am without the year of 2003. It wasn’t an experience that you can read in a book or learn from watching the news. Certainly, not something you will find in the disease that is Facebook.
I’m a systems thinker. My views and beliefs are important to me and my family, but I will not judge and condemn others whose values don’t fit into my own. It’s all part of a bigger picture. We are all assumed equal in that system. However, that is not the case. I have not suffered the atrocities in that system. Quite the opposite, as a white man I’ve only experienced its advantages. I'm person B. Our system needs some significant updates. Public policy largely exists to prevent civil disorder. When riots happen that’s a sign that public policy needs to change. I’m not overlooking the crimes committed by the few and staged agitators, the senselessness. The civil discord is the effect, not the cause. You can be as mad as you want at the effect but that says nothing about the cause. The cause is outdated policy, and the undue enforcement of that policy. Seek to understand and try to see how your views are only one part of the story. Good leaders never stop learning. I’m listening. I’m still learning and fighting for those who don’t have a voice our political system. I love America but we have a lot of healing and learning to do. Most of all we have a lot of listening to do. Please take a look at how you fit into the world not how the world fits into you. My opinion is my own as yours is your own. I’m not here to push my values on you. I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to run for office because I don’t do conflict well. I’m not seeing this run for office as conflict because that’s not who I am. I’m seeing it as an opportunity to educate and most importantly - learn. We can do so much better and it starts with leadership. All lives will not matter until black lives matter. God’s peace and love to you all.