For the past few years, I have been fortunate to be part of an academic community that is constantly examining and re-evaluating how as both individuals and a community we can create a welcoming, more inclusive environment. Coming into this community and these conversations, I felt like I was already a pretty open-minded person and that my actions and words provided a welcoming space for others. But, as I continued to go deeper in these conversations, I realized I had a lot to learn!
These conversations weren’t always easy, and to be honest there were times when I felt myself resisting what I was learning. Some of the things challenged the beliefs I grew up with. At times, I felt people were being over sensitive and too “PC.” It was in these moments, when I really stopped, listened to others, and was honest with myself that I realized that I wasn’t always doing all I could to create a more inclusive environment.
I am a white female that grew up in a middle class family. I was always provided a good education; college wasn’t an “if,” but a “where.” I went on a variety of family vacations, played multiple sports, and was exposed to many artistic and cultural endeavors. I grew up in a strong female family so I was always encouraged to speak my mind. I had my own personal struggles and still do, but on a global scale I am privileged and my voice is usually heard. It’s hard for me to even understand that other people don’t have the ability to be seen or heard as they are intended and should be.
I decided that I wanted to educate myself more. I wanted to at least try to understand the struggle and imbalance of power that still very much exists in our world in a variety of ways. Throughout the last few months, I kept coming back to the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” The idea behind this saying is that sometimes it is better to not know everything about a given situation. Something about that statement doesn’t seem comforting in today’s society. Is ignorance really bliss or is it actually irresponsible?
I know that people aren’t always provided communities, whether they are academic, spiritual, or social, that encourage them to dig deep about what they believe, how they represent themselves, and then offered education on expanding their beliefs. However, as we continue to get older, isn’t it our responsibility to be curious and seek information, ask questions, listen, and re-evaluate in order to become an active participant in life?
The more we continue to feed into our limiting beliefs or microaggressions (even if they seem to be small and not harmful), the more we perpetuate an exclusive and imbalanced environment. If we truly come from a place of love over fear in our lives then we become more open to understanding, which leads to accepting things that are different from us.
It first starts with a commitment to analyzing our own thoughts/words and behaviors/actions. When we realize that a limiting belief comes up, there are tools to shift our mindset such as thought stopping and positive replacement. As with any shift, it takes time and practice. There will be moments where it’s not easy and we do fall back into our limiting beliefs, but wouldn’t the uneasiness and struggle be worth it if we all committed to practicing “love over fear” mind, body, and spirit? Just think of how much we would grow and evolve not only as individuals, but also as a community, country, and world. Ignorance isn’t bliss; understanding, supporting, and leading with love is bliss.