57. Regarding Perspective
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Good Morning Families, today is Friday June 12, 2020 and it is now time for our last moment of SEL until we come back to school in the fall.
Today we need to take a minute to talk about perspective. I run at a high pace. I move fast. For no reason at all I’ll spring like a startled rabbit, from my couch, to get a snack. And when I do, which is often, the dog leaps with excitement thinking something awesome is happening. It’s not.
School is just days away from being done for the year and it’ll be summer break. Vacation. But you know what? In preparation for the end of school I had to do a lot of physical work in the school building. And I have to tell you, getting up early in the morning, making coffee and driving alone to the building felt like the greatest vacation I’ve ever had. No one asked me anything. No one told me anything about video games or drum sets. I didn’t blabber on about my plans for fixing up the yard. I just drove, alone to work. It was glorious. That’s perspective. How can getting up early and commuting to work feel like a vacation? Perspective. I even took the long-cuts where possible. If there were break lights, I pulled in to that lane. Perspective.
The glass is half full? Perspective
Light at the end of a tunnel? Perspective
That light is an oncoming train? Perspective
Darkest before the dawn? Perspective
Perspective is a choice, but it requires energy and attention.
Being able to see things from different perspectives is a skill. It can help you solve problems in new and creative ways. It can help you increase your empathy for others by trying to see things from a point of view that might be different from yours. It can help you when you are facing a challenge, a setback, or a struggle, by giving you the ability to look at what is going on from a variety of different points of view.
Here’s a way to practice. President Trump has decided to hold his first large campaign rally next Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here are a couple of contextual things to know. Campaign rallies are a very common part of how we elect our leaders. During a presidential election year, it is normal, even expected, for would-be candidates to crisscross the country, speaking at and with every single person that they believe will help them become the president. Donald Trump’s rally is only the first of the large rallies during corona-virus times, and it will not be the last, and certainly you will see others doing this in some fashion in the near future. For people who want to continue to follow the leadership of Donald Trump these rallies are often very celebrated for both culture and content. It would be well within reason for supporters of Donald Trump to hold the perspective of excitement and enthusiasm for the event. They may feel happy that he is getting back out to do a thing that has proven to be very popular for Donald Trump and among his supporters. They may experience excitement and joy to hear the way he speaks of others and to hear how he speaks of his accomplishments and plans. And, as many people would, they may take energetic and psychic comfort from the camaraderie that can be built when joining and connecting with others in a large group setting, when sharing common interests, concerns, and issues of the spirit. That may be a potential perspective that people may have regarding the rally Donald Trump is holding next Friday.
Before we shift to another perspective, there are a couple contextual pieces of information you should know. Next Friday is June 19th, which is also known as Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. It was on June 19th in 1865 that the Emancipation Proclamation was officially presented in Texas, the last state to still have slavery at that time. And just FYI if you are thinking that 1865 sounds wrong because the Emancipation Proclamation, which changed the legal status of enslaved Americans, was actually issued on January 1st 1863, and June 19th 1865 is two and half years late, then you’re right, that is wrong, morally. (perspective) But it is also true. Juneteenth is an important day for all of us to recognize in American History. It should be a National Day of Remembrance (perspective). Also, you should know that Tulsa, Oklahoma is the site of the Tulsa Massacre. Between May 31 and June 1, 1921 mobs of white people destroyed more than 35 city blocks of black owned businesses in Tulsa. At the time, Tulsa was home to the largest concentration African American wealth in the country. And not unlike the terrorist attacks of 9/11 which was intended to strike at the heart of the American economy, the Tulsa Massacre was intended to strike at the heart of the African American economy. #neverforget (perspective)
Last piece of context to recognize. We are currently involved in a long overdue national conversation about how African Americans have been and are treated in our nation. And we may actually be, as a nation, about to enter and an exciting time that I can only best describe by borrowing a regional idiom from where I grew up, a national “come to Jesus”. That is language taken from Christianity, but the meaning is not at all exclusively Christian. A “come to Jesus” is often used to mean a “reconciliation and acceptance for having chosen behaviors that warrant forgiveness and a desire to work toward that forgiveness”. Of course, in this case forgiveness will not justifiably be sought until there are tangible plans and economic resources offered to stop the hurting behaviors, clear indication and effort-over-time that proves those behaviors will not be repeated, and genuine intention and energy offered toward the healing of those hurt by those behaviors. That’s what’s could be happening in our nation. (perspective) And, I believe it will happen. (perspective)
Now, back to perspective. For the majority of our nation Donald Trump has yet to offer language or leadership that feels as though he is trying to unite us over the cause of racial reconciliation and healing. For people who would not like to continue following Donald Trump’s leadership, his choice to not offer kindness or even recognition of systemic racial inequity, his choice to continue to threaten cities with using the United States Armed Forces to “dominate” citizens using their constitutional rights, his choice to ignore opportunities to dialogue with the majority concerns of our country, his choice to instead hold a large campaign rally on Juneteenth, his choice to hold that rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma sends a clear message that Donald Trump not only upholds white supremacy but he in fact intends to at the least maintain it, if not increase it, for four more years. So, you could see how people could also hold that perspective.
Of course, there are many, many variations of both of these perspectives. So, how will we come together? Well, of course, our perspective is helping people gain holistic social emotional learning skills. Because these skills can help people use their self-awareness to check-in with what they are thinking, how they are feeling in their bodies, how they want to express themselves, how they can express themselves.
Our perspective that helping people build skills of social awareness would help them recognize the groups they belong to and the needs of those groups. Social awareness would also help people to recognize groups they do not belong to and needs of those groups.
Holistic SEL would help us all establish common expressive language, based on context and cultures (not just white normative values) that would help us connect regardless of differing perspectives. That holistic SEL would ultimately help us understand and interact with all the emotion information our brains can produce and that with that understanding and knowledge we would recreate social management plans that did not tell people who they should be, but provided people the opportunity to be who they are.
We can’t predict the future, but we can recognize that in duality there is always the opposite. If there is hopelessness, then there is also hope. If there is a great Divider in Chief, then there can also be a great Uniter in Chief. It may be hard to see, but if commuting to work can feel like a vacation, then anything is possible.
And on that note. Take time this summer for perspective. See all the sides as best as you can and bring you minds, your spirits, and hopefully bodies also, back to school in the fall. We look forward to connecting with you in whatever way we can, in September. Until then, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.