I wonder if the lens through which I see the world is clear and wide enough to “Let Everyone In” as Peter Mayer encourages us. I wonder if I have enough self-awareness to know when I am honoring the dignity and self-worth of others. I know that it is a dance, and that my degree of awakening and awareness changes from moment to moment, with a myriad of inputs and influences. I know that self-compassion is a daily practice, the ripples of which can be felt across the globe. I know that we cannot give to others what we cannot give ourselves. I reflect on my strengths of Bravery, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence and Gratitude (VIAcharacter.org) and strengthen myself to have tough conversations and contribute to dismantling racist and sexist structures. I look for beauty everywhere and seek with curiosity what others in this world perceive as beautiful. I challenge my definitions of excellence, to attempt to see if a smear of white supremacy has clouded my lens of behaviors and expectations. And I practice gratitude daily. I am so grateful for the gorgeous prose of Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose commanding and artful work of fiction The Water Dancer provided a call to action I am compelled to join.
“It occurred to me that an examination of the Task revealed not just those evils particular to Virginia, to my old world, but the great need for a new one entirely. Slavery was the root of all struggle. For it was said that the factories enslaved the hands of children, and that childbearing enslaved the bodies of women, and that rum enslaved the souls of men. In that moment I understood, from that whirlwind of ideas, that this secret war was waged against something more than the Taskmasters of Virginia, that we sought not merely to improve the world, but to remake it entirely.”
May we awaken, raise our awareness, practice self-compassion, and gather our strengths to do what needs to be done. To remake our world, and let EVERYONE in. May it begin within me.
Elizabeth J. Warner, MD FACP CPE
President of People’s Church Board of Trustees