Food for Thought

There are few life efforts as difficult as learning to love our neighbors as ourselves. Many of us are not all that good at loving ourselves either and some of us seem to love our neighbors more than ourselves. So, who are our neighbors? Our neighbors are neighbors, strangers, in-laws, those we disagree with, and those whom we do not understand. That is just about everybody. It is easy to stand up for those we love and those who are like us. It is much harder to stand up for those who are unlike us, whether it be their skin color, their religion, their sexual orientation, or the language they speak.

Loving is a verb and verbs imply action. To love is both to feel love and to act to express that feeling. We are not expected, nor should we expect ourselves to love every person we meet or to love different people in our lives the same way. However, love implies respect and “caring for” one another. These are things we can all do to some degree, depending on our capacities and our internal and external resources.

In this critical time in our nation of battling the coronavirus and racial and social injustice, we need to consider how we can take action to help ourselves and others embrace a new and energetic path to safety, healing and social justice. All of us have experienced injustice, rejection, feelings of alienation, or been the “other” at some point in our lives. For racial and ethnic minorities, racism is systemic and pervasive within our society, an emotional and behavioral constant to deal with day in and day out. Standing up for oppressed others is a way of standing up for our own dignity, decency, and humanity. We can love our neighbors and love ourselves. In fact, we must.

Questions to Consider:
1) We all struggle with belief systems with which we were inculcated in our young lives. There is no shame in admitting prejudice. What were you taught about difference?
2) Have you or anyone you know been the object of ongoing, systemic oppression, and how has this experience affected them and/or you?
3) Do you feel identified with any social justice causes? If so, why has that one (or those) been important to you?
4) Are there actions you have taken or intend to take to help our neighborhoods and society move toward social justice?
5) Share an experience you have had related to the issue of social justice and injustice.
All rights reserved © 2020 Beth Firestein, Ph.D. Wise Women Group