For many years now, I have been working to improve the way people treat one another. Among other things, I facilitate Diversity and Sensitivity workshops whose aim is to reduce hostility and foster more harmonious learning and working environments. (if you want to know more about these workshops, check www.DAPAdiversity.com )
During those sessions we explore the harmful consequences of prejudice, discrimination, intolerance, harassment and bullying. We discuss how we, human beings, divide ourselves in us and them, and gather in all sorts of groups, clans, clubs and gangs. We analyze how those alliances augment power that, ultimately, is used against others. We look into our obsession with competition, on how we derive a sense of worth from winning. We reflect on our need to put others down in order to feel superior. We talk about the pain we inflict on each other, and how hurt people hurt people. Finally, I invite the participants to consider that we, all of us, carry prejudices, that we all isolate ourselves in our little tribes, that we all discriminate, act with some degree of insensitivity, and play and fight to win the Power Game. In the end, we all come to agree that prejudice is learned and can be unlearned, and that we can do a lot better in the ways we relate to one another.
After teaching, reflecting and writing about diversity and inclusion for many years, I am now convinced that the betterment we want in human relations cannot be achieved solely through education. Something more is needed, and that is that deep, honest, introspective investigation that leads to the inner knowing that we are all very similar, that we are all connected, that we all are parts of one same whole, and that treating others the way we want to be treated makes absolute and total sense.
If I knew you and you knew me–
If both of us could clearly see,
And with an inner sight divine
The meaning of your heart and mine,
I’m sure that we would differ less
And clasp our hands in friendliness;
Our thoughts would pleasantly agree
If I knew you and you knew me.
If I knew you and you knew me,
As each one knows his own self, we
Could look each other in the face
And see therein a truer grace.
Life has so many hidden woes,
So many thorns for every rose;
The “why” of things our hearts would see,
If I knew you and you knew me.
~ Nixon Waterman, “To Know All Is To Forgive All”
The transformation in human relations that we desire demands transformation at the personal level. It is through introspection that we come to realize our own discriminatory behavior. It is through inner work that we come to consciously unlearn the prejudices that we have unconsciously learned. It is through a journey within our own selves that we experience oneness, and start to see separation and exclusion — and the violence they bring about — as complete absurdities.
So, I invite you to take the time now — and many more times throughout your life — to go to that place of peace inside yourself and ask these four simple questions: “Who am I? What do I love? How shall I live, knowing that I will die? What are my gifts to the family of the Earth?” (*)
I encourage you to look deeply within your own self for answers to the following questions: “What am I am doing here? What is this thing we call life? Why do we make it so complicated? Why can’t we simply get along, help one another to be the best that we can be, and live together in harmony?”
The truth is that the betterment of human relations stems from the awareness of our oneness, an epiphany that comes from the practice of diligent inner-work, and from a gentle, mindful and contemplative way of living.
The realization that although education is important but not enough to bring about the change we want in the ways we treat one another is the reason why I have decided to promote the practice of moments of silence and stillness through mindfulness meditation in schools and workplaces.
I invite you to meditate and improve yourself in order to become a bringer of harmony to the groups you belong. I invite you to become a bringer of peace to the world.
Just do it!
Namaste ~ Piero
(*) I encourage you to read the book How Then, Shall We Live? Four Simple Questions that Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives by Wayne Muller.
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– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”