Changing the world starts with changing your perspective. Opening your eyes, expanding your worldview, hearing the storms that rage in others’ lives, getting uncomfortable with the grayness of a world that so often doesn’t have answers. You all love answers. But the truth is that this world doesn’t provide them. You have to seek perspective instead. Dragons exist. GK Chesterton said that fairy tales don’t exist to prove that there are dragons; they exist to prove that dragons can be beaten. How does the hero conquer the dragon then, my friends? You all have grown up in a world that loves to be entertained. Specifically, though, many of you had DVD players in cars and you had Disney and Nickelodeon. You have loved stories. So how did the hero slay the dragon? Did he do so by sitting in his den and typing on his smartphone? Did she do so by never having to change her routine? Did she stay in the comfort and known constraints of town, family, church or community? Read the stories. The heroes had to leave that comfort and expand into the forests, into other kingdoms, even into other worlds. A hero had to traverse cultural mountains and dive into murky rivers of uncertainty. Heroes are, of course, metaphors. They are us. They are reflections of our hopes and our journeys and we have them, the stories and the lessons, as a guide. Are you a hero? Of course you are. But you have to start at the same place all heroes start: at the beginning. Step out of what’s comfortable and expand your worldview.
Have you ever heard of Nellie Bly? Google that name. Have you ever purposefully lived in a place where you don’t speak the language? Try it. Have you moved to a different region of the country and existed without defending your own? Do it. Have you attended a worship service of a different faith (not just another church or another denomination of the same) not to project or confirm your own views but to understand theirs? Make a point to do this. Ask someone from a different background, a different generation, a different faith, a different culture- ask them to coffee. Here’s the real message: do this, not so you can change their minds, change their worlds, but so YOU can expand YOURS. This is a key piece of life, my friends. I don’t know that we teach this in classrooms anymore. I don’t know that we celebrate this in our social circles. I fear that we are using our classrooms and our social circles to enforce our own views- it’s confirmation bias, proof texting and it’s dangerous. Be rebellious my friends and be courageous enough to step out of this boundary.
I know that we are down on social media right now for so many reasons, but I have been deeply impressed by the genius behind the “Humans of New York” series. Have you followed? Do you read for understanding or for information? This is something I have noticed about you all – just give me the facts, give me the 411 so I’ll know the answer… NO. Read for the understanding another. Read to expand your world view. Read to experience something different, something uncomfortable, something that makes you hear the words spoken from worlds not part of your circle. Be aware. And then use that awareness, that experience, to speak into every moment possible.
HONY started as an idea, a concept to really hear from neighbors, fellow humans in the largest city in our country. It has expanded. The ideology is liberal- based in NY, NY and open to all types, all messages, all neighbors. It’s liberal (Definition: Open to new behavior or opinions).Recently, the founder has been interviewing those in Michigan- in a county that used to be Democratic but voted for Trump. Is he doing this so he can change minds? Ridicule those he thinks are less than he? Shame those he considers uneducated? So he can have facts? So he can be entertained? My answer to these, my intuition is none of the above. I don’t know the specifics but what I recognize is the brilliance. It’s simple: listen, hear, absorb, allow yourself to expand through stories of incomprehensible sadness, unspeakable loss, unimaginable abuse. Those of us who read, who follow, have been moved to tears with joy, with compassion. We have been angered that such things exist in our world. We have been moved from our comfort zones and been made aware that we really are all just Humans of This World.
This man, Brandon Stanton, has an enormous following. He is wielding a great deal of power right now- in all generations. He is interviewing those who are on the “Other Side” of his region, his age range, probably his political spectrum. He is provided an actionable way to dive into his neighbor’s perspective. He doesn’t comment. He doesn’t confirm any of his own opinions by editing or by responding “in defense of..” or “well, actually…” and the results have been heartbreaking, uplifting, joyful, gut-wrenching, and stunning. It’s not Hollywood. It’s not sexy or flashy. It’s probably small-scale. He isn’t staging marches or demanding a television audience. He isn’t even contributing his personal story. But he is expanding the understanding past the immediate and childish reaction of assuming every Trump voter is a racist and every Clinton voter is a socialist. Note:that form of dualism is dangerous, immature and lacks courage. Be careful, my friends that you don’t fall into that trap. The powers that want to keep you “down” use that trap as a means of control. Don’t be controlled like that. Don’t let anyone control your mind or your choices by demanding that you become prisoner to manufactured division.
HONY is allowing all of us to hear from our neighbors. It’s uncomfortable for some of the readers. It’s not as simple as labeling someone a racist or a libtard when you read how broken they are, when you see what they have overcome, when you see how they struggle with worthiness, with feeling unlovable and with the desires to just get a little better each day. HONY is allowing the awareness, encouraging the conversation for expanding our hearts and broadening our worldview. Books can do the same thing, by the way. Read more.
Oh, and Brandon Stanton, the genius behind HONY? A Millennial. Because you can take over the world, my Millennials.
I love you so-