Many of us want to see the world move towards a more equitable and sustainable state and that requires a change in behavior: our own and that of others. It is important to notice that how we see people (and ourselves) correlates with how we will treat them (and ourselves). Here is an excerpt from Wayne Muller’s book “A life of Being, Having and Doing Enough” that calls out two paradigms from which we can look at people:

“This ancient tension between judgement and mercy is found everywhere in the world. While we may experience it most immediately in our own minds and hearts, this tension informs our medical systems, our political ideologies, even our religious beliefs. If people are basically bad, defective, broken, the they will need to be fixed, shaped, purged of sin, and punished. If, on the other hand, people are essentially good, then we need to be nourished, supported, encouraged, and taught.”

This tension between judgement and mercy is a hard one. Judgement can feel so justified when you have witness and experienced the harm people and systems cause. While judging others or yourselves might shame us into temporary submission, it will never be able to create sustained transformation.

Here is a talk that investigates the two mindsets from which we engender change. It was given at an artist dinner series hosted by Casey Droege. You can watch the six minute talk below. I have also written a Medium Article in which I use all the words I wish I could during the talk!

If you want to read more about this topic, I found this article “Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice” an honest and articulate description of the same struggle. Here is an excerpt:

“Punishments for saying/doing/believing the wrong thing include shaming, scolding, calling out, isolating, or eviscerating someone’s social standing. Discipline and punishment has been used for all of history to control and destroy people. Why is it being used in movements meant to liberate all of us? We all have made serious mistakes and hurt other people, intentionally or not. We get a chance to learn from them when those around us respond with kindness and patience. Where is our humility when examining the mistakes of others? Why do we position ourselves as morally superior to the un-woke? Who of us came into the world fully awake?”

The work of looking inside ourselves to change how we approach change might feel like navel gazing, but it is very important. And I wish you much joy (and Sue) on this journey!