The Focus Course

Slowing down to Listen and Reflect

I’ve been slowly processing the events that have transpired over the last two weeks here in the US.

Mostly, I’ve felt grief. At my own sense of familiarity of another Black life lost. Grief at the narrative of black oppression and injustice in our country. Grief of my lack of understanding and naivety of my own white privilege.

I’m coming to realize the unknown prejudice that has come with the color of my skin. How could I possibly understand the levels of discrimination and injustice Black men and women have faced their entire lives?

Right now I’m listening to understand what I’ve never experienced, and taking time to reflect and be present in this historic moment.

Time for Self Reflection

Taking in the words, images, and videos of protests across the US, I want to let them change me. I don’t want this to be another blip on the timeline of history. I want it to be a moment in my life I look back on and point to as a distinct shift in thinking.

Much of what we talk about here on The Focus Course blog is centered around moving toward personal aspirations. What dreams do you want to see accomplished? What values do you want to embody? What legacy do you want to pass on? But one of the hardest things to measure change in is our thinking.

How do you measure the moment in time you start thinking differently about something?

I’m internalizing what I see taking place and doing my best to not just let it be another news story.

  • How do the challenges of racial injustice impact me personally?
  • How are the current events challenging or changing the ways that I think?
  • In what ways have I participated in racial inequality?
  • What did I think about the topics of racial inequality five years ago? What about now?
  • In what ways have I sought to truly understand and empathize with those on the other side of the argument (o matter where I may stand)?

These are not easy questions to answer. But if I really want to be part of a greater reformation of change, than change has to start with me.

* * *

When this movement is written about decades from now, it could be a moment of historic change in our country. Much of that will be determined by how individuals choose to respond.

In addition to answering some of the questions above, here are a few more things I’m doing to respond.

Engage in Conversation (Offline)

While there are a lot of things I don’t love about social media, it has provided real time updates from around the country as things have unfolded during the past couple of weeks. In this respect, Twitter in particular has been an interesting place to be.

That being said, social feeds are not the best place to have in-depth conversations. So much is lost in text without emotion.

I’ve been engaging in meaningful conversation with my wife and a handful of others around these topics the last couple weeks. These have left me thinking much more deeply about the issues at stake than reading Twitter threads.

Get Out of the Echo Chamber

Everyone that thinks like you, talks like you, and looks like you is probably going to give you the same message.

Talk to and ask questions of people that hold different opinions about what is taking place.

Be intentional about hearing from people with varying backgrounds and experience with racial topics. We need to listen and hear what those in the Black community are saying right now, which leads to my last point.

Listen to Learn

Don’t listen to respond. Listen to understand and learn.

Allow yourself to think on and sit with differing perspectives that you find uncomfortable. Don’t be in a hurry to rationalize or explain everything. These are complex topics that are deeply connected to the pain and suffering of a lot of people that spans for decades.

Listen to learn and bring about change.


Hero image by Koshu Kunii via Unsplash.

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