Recent events have created a lot of conversation about racism. We've taken to social media to fiercely defend our opinions on the matter, but the reality is, it's driving us farther apart. Change happens when we come together.
Today, we celebrate the birthday of the greatest civil rights leader ever known, Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK knew how to bring people together to affect change, so here are five things you can do to bring together people of different races, political views, opinions and religions to affect positive change.
1. Stop taking sides
If you are "on this side," "for this," "against that" or attached to any other specific idea, you are part of the problem.
Change will never happen without everyone being receptive to other opinions, ideas and viewpoints. Each one of us only has our own way of looking at any situation, and that perspective comes from our life experiences.
The way we come together is by listening to other people with different experiences and integrating those perspectives into our own. As we understand more perspectives, we become more intelligent and get closer to understanding the truth.
Be open to other perspectives that bring additional information to the table and help you to shape your ideas more intelligently.
To understand those other perspectives, we have to listen. Listening isn't just hearing the words, but hearing the words is the first requirement. You have to have your keys to drive your car, but having the keys doesn't mean you can drive the car.
Real listening is understanding the perspectives of the other person and integrating those perspectives into your own. Then comes the hard part: You have to compare those ideas and perspectives to your own and integrate them into your own. Integrating other people's ideas and perspectives into your own is called growing. It's mandatory for positive change.
3. Change the conversation
Issues appear to have only two sides: I'm on this side; you're on that side. We use social media to register which side we're on. For example, "This person was wrong because of this," or "I agree with that person because of this."
We love making creative, viral videos that prove our points in unique and poignant ways, but all this does is fortify our existing positions, driving the wedge deeper between the two sides of the opinion. We're not making progress unless we're changing, evolving and getting a greater understanding of different perspectives.
4. Change yourself
If you aren't changing in some way, you're still part of the problem. Everyone has to move to a higher level of intelligence by expanding his or her understanding of the issues.
When everyone gains a better understanding of other people's ideas and perspectives, we all become better human beings. Changing your opinions and perspectives is hard, but it's also the only way we can make progress as a human race.
5. Desire a better world more than you desire being right
If you want the world to be a better place, and you want to be part of the change, you're going to have to be wrong sometimes.
Your ego is a little monster in your head that insists you must be right all the time, and if you're not, you aren't a worthy human being. Being right all the time and making changes in the world doesn't go hand in hand. You can't have both, so get rid of your ego and be okay with being wrong.
Listening and expanding our own perspectives is how we become better human beings and create a better place to live. We owe it to the late, great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to talk, listen, understand and most importantly, change.