We are being asked, more than ever before, to be brave and come together. I love what Brené Brown says about how “it’s going to take a million tiny acts of kindness and consciousness to change the world” in Braving the Wilderness.

Those tiny acts will be different for everyone. We all play our part in different ways. It really can be a beautiful thing if we create space for people to do what they are called to do in their own way.

I’m really clear now that the best way I can do that is in my everyday.

In the everyday connections I have with people.

In staying present and grounded.

And in doing my own necessary personal and spiritual development work.

Lately, I’ve been seeing an increase in polarization in the words I’m reading and the stories I’m seeing. It’s really been concerning me, and I have some thoughts from the cultural anthropologist part of me that I’d like to share.

First, I’m seeing polarization in: 

  • Marketing (large and small scale): Polarization works but is this really the world we want to create?
  • News: Flashy headlines designed to produce an emotional reaction and engagement not critical and well-considered news.
  • Communities: Exclusionary and shaming tactics where we’re being asked to take sides and be either “in” or “out” based on values and beliefs.

I’m a cultural anthropologist by training, and I feel like it’s time I start sharing a bit more about some of the concepts that can really help us learn to CONNECT with each other.

Concepts such as:

  1. Ethnocentrism: Judging others by our own cultural preconceptions. This is where polarization is born and only serves to increase conflict.
  2. Cultural Relativism: “The idea that each culture must be understood in terms of the values and beliefs of that culture and should not be judged by the standards of another culture. Cultural Relativism assumes that no culture is better than any other.” Barbara Miller
  3. Critical cultural relativism: Asks about where the ideas are coming from, and who they serve. Here, we can look at our own culture critically.

These concepts and approaches help to increase connection and decrease polarization. It’s impossible to truly communicate this in a post like this. I used to teach classes where we really got to dive into these ideas. They are complex with deep implications that I’ve spent a very long time thinking about and trying to live by.

My hope is that this was helpful in some way and can help increase connection.

May we all be understood and truly seen in this world. May we all be happy. May we all be loved.

And if you ever want a slow and quiet conversation that sees the complexity of the world with compassion, I’m here.


 

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