Contributed by BB Harding

I’ve been taking a class on writing.  The intention of the class is to support people in writing in their authentic voice.  My intention was to find my consistent voice, and allow it to open up for me.

In one of the first exercises I wrote the following:

  • When I am around someone who thinks they know it all, I tend to not speak.
  • When I am around someone who is loud, boisterous, passionate.  I tend not to speak
  • When I am around someone who is always talking, I tend not to speak
  • In the last couple of years, I have tended to sit back and not speak
  • I need a question to get me started, and then I need patience from the other person to allow me to feel my way into things.
  • Unless I know a topic really well, I will not speak.  I might not even question if I don’t find that the other person has the space for me to ask.
  • I appear to have a preference for hiding.  Shying away from making my potential inaccurate observations known.

I was, of course, surprised by what I wrote, and at the same time, it gave me words around the things that I did know about myself.  I have struggled mightily to put my thoughts into words that others might be able to relate to.  There are times that I think and feel much differently than how others feel, and in the midst of their passion, I am paralyzed to speak.  I am acutely aware that I can have a limited perspective on many things – I don’t see or know the whole picture.  For me, it can be especially tricky when I can see “both sides of the story,” and I don’t feel strongly one way or the other.  It is also difficult to verbally navigate when something “just doesn’t feel right” to me, and no real data to back me up one way or the other.  I have learned to keep my “potentially controversial” thoughts to myself.  I have had both admiration and fear for my friends that are strong activists, who have very strong opinions about what is wrong in the world.  Admiration because I can see and feel their passion that has ignited into a firing inferno, and fear because the inferno is overwhelming and I don’t have something like that that I feel about, and more than likely, I don’t see things the same way that they do.  (And strongly imagine that they won’t see my point of view either.)

There are days where something will “hit” me and then I will spend some time thinking about it.  I let things sit until they either make some sense to me, or they leave.  This is typical done in the quiet recesses of my mind and are seldom shared. Today, I want to do something different.  To take a chance.

I have long held the vision that as a global citizen there would come a day when I would be able to travel from country to country without the need of a passport.  Much like I do here in the states.  As an auto driver, I go from one to the other, and do not require special documentation.  There are times that I do have to go through a checkpoint, especially in states that border Canada or Mexico.

I have been taken aback by the controversy over the “border wall.”  I can remember the first time I heard about it, I wondered why would we want to move toward isolationism when the emphasis is on globalization?  I now wonder how did it come to pass that we fear for our safety so much that we want to build a wall between us and our neighbors to the south?  What are the things that would need to be taken into account so that we could truly solve the problem?  And is a wall the answer, or dialog, collaboration, out of the box thinking?

In the last year, I was made aware that in order for a change agent to be effective, they had to be able to hold the energy of both polarities and be inclusive.  Inclusive of the positions of both sides so that the view of the problem could rise and be seen at a higher level. The maxims that you must ask the right question to gain the insight, and you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking/energy that created it came flooding in.  What would need to be taken into account in order to get to that higher level of seeing?  I imagined that things like “what are the things that cause/entice our southern neighbors to come into the US?”  “Is there substance to the fears that those in the US have towards our southern neighbors?”  “Do these fears apply just to them, or to all who are different from ourselves?”  “How can the differences be bridged?”  “What change in perspective needs to take place in order to create safety and harmony?” “How can we rise beyond the fear and lack to know that all is well?”

Over the years, through the many catastrophes, I have watched as people have come from all parts of the world to assist and support other parts of the world.  How many have supported earthquakes in Japan, Iran, Haiti, Mexico, China?  How about the tsunami in Thailand?  Illnesses, water quality, food shortages in Africa?  Outreaches that even though they are not classified as such, carry the energy of being a citizen of the world and caring for each other?  Even here in the states, how many people have come to the aide of those whose lives have been turned upside down by the hurricanes, fires and floods?  It hurts to see such vitriol thrown around, distrust escalated to the point of exclusion and the need for walling oneself off, being lulled into a false sense of security.  I am reminded of a friend of mine who delivers speeches.  He had one speech that talked about how the solution to problem A became problem B.  We create a wall thinking that we are solving problems related to illegal immigration, drugs and crime, and then what problem does the wall create?

There are times where it feels frustrating.  I don’t have the answers, and I don’t yet even have the question that would provide the greatest breakthrough when answered.   I hold that somehow, we will be able to come together for the benefit of raising the consciousness of the collective, and with that intent, the answers come forward.

I ask myself, how can I change my perspective so that I can embrace new possibilities rather than push against something that seems off?  I know that I can be in charge of how I proceed and hold that others too will do the same.