Someone recently emailed me (and a few others) an article from The Telegraph about new badges being worn by librarians at the British Library declaring their gender pronouns. The article mentioned they were hoping it would encourage conversation. The chain of responses to the email was provocative:
T: Jeez, what next for separation. Ridiculous minds with nothing better to do. We can make everyone one gender if all would desire, only there is a difference between the physical body types.
T: Sorry, should not have responded to this email.
C: I love that they say these are to encourage conversations about gender identity. I wish the badge said that. Being cisgender, it’s easy to dismiss this as a waste of money, time, and emotions. But a lack of understanding, empathy, openness, and curiosity about people who are different increases the divide and polarization among us. Just imagine if everyone was open to these conversations. Imagine how those who are different might feel: seen, heard, and perhaps accepted. I personally have questions about those who claim “them”. I would love the invitation to ask questions from a place of wanting to understand, and what better place than a library.
A: I cannot imagine that it is going to work so well in an English environment!!
C: Probably wouldn’t work so well here in the US either. Oh, that we were as quick to be curious as we are to judge…
A: It is so much easier to judge… no effort required ????
And there it is: no effort required to judge. Judgment comes unbidden, without our permission the thought is there and if we’re not careful, the exclamation is made.
I want curiosity to come unbidden. And, this requires effort on my part. I have to be willing to create new habits of reacting, practice substituting, mid-stream, curiosity for judgment.
This would go a long way toward supporting conversations worth having with others, especially those who see the world differently and who hold different points of view or beliefs. To have a genuine sense of curiosity about others, with no agenda to change them, means suspending my own beliefs long enough to openly explore someone else’s world without judging their answers.
If I’m being honest, that’s not an easy ask of my mind, which seems driven to assess everything against its own frame. What is it that drives the judging? Am I threatened by different worldviews? Does my ego need fortifying? Am I striving to determine who is part of my tribe? What is the possible benefit of a mindset that sifts through the views of others sorting them as “in” or “out”? Right or wrong? I hope it doesn’t require me to answer those questions to stop doing it. I hope a personal commitment followed by action will be enough.
This is my commitment: to pause, breathe, suspend judgment, and then get curious, asking questions with an open mind, open heart, and open will. If you know me, please keep me honest!
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