You Get More With Honey

“It’s not what enters men’s mouths that’s evil. It’s what comes out of their mouths that is.” –Paulo Coelho The Alchemist

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” –Virginia Woolf

Cochise Flowers

Cochise Flowers

 

Recent events, and subsequent comments about them in the media have got my ire up. A white man, Donald Sterling, shows his true colors, and the brouhaha is on. In an” Open Letter to White People: Why I’m Donald Sterling and So Are You,” The gist was that all white people are racist, and we’d better admit it. What made me so irritated wasn’t what the author wrote, but the tone of the article. If you want to influence people, you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.

I’m not saying that this article is completely wrong. What I’m saying is that if you want us to take a good hard look at ourselves,accusing all whites of being racist is the wrong approach. In fact, EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this planet, except for those who are enlightened, like Jesus, Buddha and others have been, carry some kind of prejudice around with them. And we ALL need to check ourselves for prejudices of all kinds.

I know I’m not perfect, but I am continually working on becoming more open and loving. I’m always double checking my attitudes. I’m working on myself, so that I can be an influence for good in the world, and help humanity evolve to a deeper level of being. And I don’t believe in the “when one person messes up, everyone in the class gets punished,” mentality. So, I get angry when someone tells me I’m prejudiced just because I’m white.

We can’t know what is in the deepest heart of another person. To lump an entire group together, and accuse them of having exactly the same feelings, is unrealistic. Not all Germans are bad, because Hitler was the leader of Germany during WWII. Not all people from Arab nations are bad because those who were behind the 911 tragedy were from Arab countries. Not all Mexicans are in this country illegally. Not all Black people are gang members, and commit crimes. Not all Asians are smart, and make cheap products that fall apart the first time you use them. Not all white people feel entitled because they’re white. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

We have a lot of problems in this world. As I see it, the only way to solve them is for every single person to take a close look at themselves, as the article suggests. If we take care of the mess in our own backyard, and every single person does that, it makes solving the world wide problems so much easier.

In my opinion, we need to thank the Donald Sterlings in our world. They point out areas in our society where we still have work to do. He’s not the only one who has made comments that we need to be scrutinizing. There are lots of intolerant people mouthing off in the media. We need to be examining what they’re saying as well, and checking our attitudes about their points of view. They are showing us areas in our society where we need to work on becoming more tolerant of the plight of others.

I know this much about myself, when I’m judgmental of other people’s actions, I’m doing that because they’re showing me an area of my life that I don’t want to look at. I’m trying to blame them for the mess in my own backyard. If I resist hiding my head in the sand, and look at my faults, my heart opens up. I understand myself, and the faults of others.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone needs to accept responsibility for what they do. But, if we’ve done our own work, it’s easier to have compassion for someone when they mess up. We are after all, imperfect human beings.

I read another article last week that helped me feel better about what’s going on in the world. The title is “7 Things Self-Actualized People Do Differently” It’s an article that gives us all something to shoot for in our self-improvement journey. If we can achieve the seven states of being described in this article, we’ll be contributing to the growth of the human race.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
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12 thoughts on “You Get More With Honey

  1. Well, I sure have some mixed feelings about this one, Lucinda!
    We surely all do carry prejudices. Some come about because of life experiences and others may be taught to us at a young age. We need to look at those prejudices, and we need to work to help them decrease.
    You say not all white people feel privileged, and that is true. But I think that is a part of the problem. White does carry privileges. Security guards have never looked at me suspiciously when I walk in or out of a store. I have never been stopped for a trumped up traffic violation because of my skin color – and then been hauled our of my car and had my trunk searched for drugs. Many Black folks I know have had this happen.
    My color allowed me to vote before many men in the South were allowed to. My church was not blown up because of my race. People of my color were not regularly lynched because of said color. I can drive through a wealthy neighborhood without being arrested.
    And there is so much more.
    I have many friends of other races and many have spoken to me of the discrimination that have faced and still face today. My Mexican boyfriend (odd word at this age!) has been subjected many times to subtle and not-so-subtle comments, sometimes in front of me.
    I know there are many whites who don’t have privilege. I have worked with them and am and have been friends with them. But almost always, they, too, have knows there were people who were lower on the rung than they were.
    I encourage all people of the Caucasion race to examine the privilege we carry.
    But in all, you have given me many, many things to think about! And that is good.

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    • These are topics and issues close to my heart, and I appreciate your raising awareness of them!

      I think we do all have prejudices and skewed perspectives, though some people are obviously more open and hurtful with their prejudices (which tend to be traditional ones such as racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, etc.), while other people may not even be aware that they have prejudices until they are exposed to a new culture or person with a radically different way of seeing the world. Thus, the short answer to this problem seems to me to be education. That raises a whole bunch of new questions, of course, but I think that’s the direction to go, personally.

      I actually wrote about this in a post a while back called “Open-mindedness: The Only Way to Cultivate It.” If you are interested to read it, here’s the link: http://abringerofnewthings.com/2013/09/19/open-mindedness-the-only-way-to-cultivate-it/

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      • Good points, Sarrah, and I agree with you about education, and also agree that there are many issues about the idea of education. And now I am going to check out your blog.

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      • lucindasagemidgorden

        Sarrah, Thanks for you reply. I agree that education is a key way to change people’s perceptions of other races. I used to teach high school. One day we were reading a piece by a slave recounting his journey across the “Middle Passage” to the new world. I upset my students one day by breaking out into tears about the cruel treatment that the slaves endured. One of the students said, “Miss, Why are you crying?” I said, “Because white people treated these people so badly.” She said, “Do you feel bad because you’re white?” Of course, I said “Yes.” “But Miss,” She said, “You didn’t do it.” I knew she was right, but I couldn’t help feel but feel bad about the atrocities of that time period. I guess the point I was trying to make with my post is that, each individual person has a responsibility to educate themselves, face their dark sides, heal their wounds. I love the song in South Pacific that says, you’ve got to be carefully taught to hate. This isn’t something we can solve anytime soon. We just have to keep plugging away at it a little bit at a time.

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      • Yes, I think you are absolutely right. We can’t change the past, but we can do our best to be informed, compassionate, and self-aware people who, we hope, will encourage others to be the same.

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    • lucindasagemidgorden

      Emilie, I had mixed feelings when I wrote it. I guess the point I was trying to make, and not doing it very well was this: As my dad used to say, you can’t change another person’s mind. The only way you might be able to do it is if you set a good example. So as a white person, the only way I can change the mess of racial, sexual and religious discrimination in which we find ourselves, is by seeing each person as an individual and treating each one of them with respect. That doesn’t mean I don’t speak out against things like racial profiling, and the like. I do that too. But, my prejudice was showing when I wrote the post. I can’t stand being told how to think, or how to live my life. I’ve faced that kind of thing during my life, just because I’m a woman, so, when the author of that article told me that I need to wake up, and check my perceptions, I got angry. He doesn’t know me. He has no idea how much personal work I’ve done over the years. He has no idea how hard I work at seeing every single person as valuable and a child of God. And yet, he’s right. We do need to try to understand how hard life is for those people around us. You’ve given me lots to think about too. Thanks for your reply.

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      • Understood, Lucinda. We all need work. And I just happen to hate being told what to do or what to think – especially by someone who doesn’t know me. But I surely encourage us all to check our beliefs and to open our minds. Both are hard to do.

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  2. You cried in front of your students because you are white. Also because you are a caring human.
    I so much like the dialogue that has begun!

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    • lucindasagemidgorden

      Emilie, If my post made you think I was trying to tell you what to do, I’m sorry. I’m only trying to encourage everyone toward self examination. Since you’re already doing that, I was preaching to the choir.

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      • No, no, no! Your post made me think. I was agreeing with you that a stranger telling you what to think makes me angry. You were not telling me what to think, merely offering considerations which made me think about many things. Keep it up!

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  3. Once again, I enjoyed reading your blog! Thank you Lucinda for your gentle reminders of what is essential to mindfulness, and thanks for the link to Higher Perspective.

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    • lucindasagemidgorden

      Mary, You’re welcome for the link. I found it very interesting. Thanks for your kind comments.

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