After Charlottesville Listen and Be Kind

By Priscilla H. Douglas

Q:  I am a graduate of UVA and watched the mayhem unfold. I feel totally helpless.   What can I do to make a difference?

A:  I can appreciate that you feel helpless but I suspect that you are not hopeless given that you are asking what you can do.  The good news is that clarity of actions usually stems from the deep feeling that you have right now and there is much that you can do. Every thoughtful and humane action makes a difference especially if aimed to help — not hurt.  To determine your course of action, consider the following and ask:   

  • Am I an enabler or a bystander?   Be rigorous and determine — am I part of the problem or part of the solution.   If you are silent or sit on your hands an allow actions or speech that clashes with your values then you are part of the problem. Be honest:  are you living true to your core values?  If yes, act accordingly.  
  • Am I judging more than learning?   Do I already know what THEY think or do I already know my limits boundaries?   If yes, you may be living in a very narrow world where everything you do and say reinforces what you already know/believe.  
  • What if you could learn something new from each person you encounter?  What if you learned more about yourself from these encounters?  When we connect with ourselves and with others we expand our perspective — our experiences.   And the good news is that by seeing the world through another’s eyes we become more creative:  Yes, innovation always comes from the margins–from the folks who think and see things differently.

Finally, it may take you a while to be clear about the actions or cause you want to take. However, remember when you don’t know what to do listen and always be kind.



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