Building narratives, breaking barriers
By Rocio Ortega, D.O.V.E. Assistant
Did you know that in this very moment, even as you read this, you are building and shaping your life narrative? Your story is made up of every interaction, every question, trial and triumph that led you to this moment in time. Your story has plot twists and protagonists that no one else has. Think about all that your lived experience holds — now multiply it by about 7 billion. That is how many narratives are shaping and forming themselves in the world today.
When you cross someone on the street, do you ever think about their story? I do. I wonder about who they love, who they miss, what their ambitions are, what they’re struggling through and so much more. There is an excitement in this curiosity. In wondering about the richness of another’s life. Sometimes though, when we realize that someone has a very different narrative than our own, it may cause tension. We lose sight of the beauty in the tapestry that we all make up and get distracted by the colors that don’t seem to blend as well as we’d like them to.
So how do we put things into perspective and remind ourselves to continue caring for others in these moments? Try considering a few of these key points:
- Choose the path of self-awareness
Being confronted with a behavior you don’t understand is as much of an opportunity to learn about yourself as it is to learn about another person. Say you meet someone who has cultural values that make you a little uncomfortable. What does your discomfort say about your own values and biases? When we look back at our narratives, we may find that certain events in our lives have contributed to an underlying bias. Let’s unpack those events and help heal those biases by using our natural inclination of identifying our connectedness with all humanity.
- Choose the path of compassion and empathetic action
Embracing diversity is a conscious choice. When we disagree with cultural differences, we are causing tension within our own hearts and minds. The intolerance weighs on us just as heavily as it weighs upon the other individual. Remember, you are meant to be a being of harmony, not dissonance. Take a step back and reevaluate. Acknowledge that this may be an area where your perspective and knowledge can grow. Listen to that person’s story to better understand where it is they’re coming from. Try to see the world through their eyes. That sort of empathy will lead you to action and resolution.
- Choose the path of wonderment
I’m convinced that there is something ingrained in our being that makes stories so attractive to us. It may be because our lives are shrouded in such mystery. With each passing day, we’re each trying to figure out how this whole life thing works. It can be lived out in countless ways. So when you cross the path of someone who is unfamiliar, let yourself be filled with curiosity, not animosity. Consider the possibility that by interacting with this person, you may learn a thing or two about yourself and be transformed in a way that you never expected. Allow this unique individual’s narrative and your own narrative to intersect and let your story be even better because of it.
A student shared the following thoughts after attending a Greenheart program:
“The most important thing I’ve learned is interaction – of different people, different culture and traditions, and different languages. This interaction is the foundation that leads to understanding between the different people/cultures/traditions and increases the sense of humanity – that everyone, no matter the differences, is still human, plain and simple.”