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SALT LAKE CITY — For the last two years in January I have recommended one resolution that would have the biggest impact on your life.
In 2013 I wrote about improving communication skills and thereby improving your relationships at home and work. In 2014 I recommended forgiving yourself and others as this would greatly improve your self-esteem and quality of life. This year, I would like to recommend a resolution that could not only change your life — but may also change the world.
There is a great deal of hate sweeping our planet right now. There is terrible racial conflict in our country and fighting over differences in religion, race and sexual orientation, happening around the world. As we have watched the fighting, beheadings, riots and terrorism on TV, we, at our house, find ourselves asking the same question over and over, “What can we do to change this?”
This question can leave us feeling powerless at times, but the truth is, one person can make a difference. People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., who successfully made a big difference in the world, started out as regular people like you and me. They were regular people who decided to speak out for truth, but because their ideas were truth, it resonated with people and movements were born.
I am going to tell how you can help, speak out, stand up and make your voice heard in defense of truth to encourage equality, respect, unity and love in the world, but before I do that I want you to understand the real root of the problem.
The real problem behind these conflicts is a problematic tendency of human nature that makes all of us subconsciously see those who are different from us (in any way) as less than or worse than us. We basically assume that if we are different from another person, one of us must be better and the other worse. Since we don’t want to be the bad one, we subconsciously look for the bad in the other person so we can cast them as the bad guy, making us feel like the good guy. This can happen in a split second without us even consciously realizing we are doing it.
If you put any two people in a room, they will immediately (subconsciously) either feel intimidated and less than the other person, or slightly better and above the other. The factors influencing this viewpoint may be racial, social, economic or educational, but the more different they are from each other, the more fear and discomfort will be generated. We are also subconsciously afraid of things we don’t understand. So, people who are vastly different from us make us even more uncomfortable. This is why we struggle to accept those of different cultures or sexual orientation. Since we have a hard time understanding them, the difference generates more fear.
Have you noticed how we flock to those who are most like us? We are always more comfortable around our own kind, though we can change this by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and over time we can become comfortable around anyone. The problem is that most of us don’t push ourselves to do this. We just stay with our group.
This simple subconscious tendency to fear those who are different is responsible for most of the conflict, fighting, war, prejudice, racism, discrimination and hate on the planet. This tendency to see ourselves as better than others and think that our way is the right way and everyone else is wrong — is dividing countries, communities and even families. It is separating us and drawing all kinds of lines of division. We divide ourselves by political party, religion, neighborhood, which mayonnaise we use, which soda we drink and which school or sports team we cheer for, and then we declare ourselves as better than ‘those people’ and cast them as the enemy.
This has to stop.
But the only way to stop it is to change the way we think about and see each other, and this change has to happen inside the head of every person individually.
The problem is, the only person you have any control over is you.
So, that is where you must start. You must work on changing you.
You can start this year by committing to see all people as the same as you. This is the resolution I recommend in 2015. Practice not letting differences scare you, make you uncomfortable, suspicious or angry. You can practice letting all men be free to be who they are and not see yourself as better than anyone else. You can commit to treat all people as one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, amazing, divine human beings with the same value as you. You can work on treating people with respect, kindness and acceptance everywhere you go.
You can also check your behavior at all times by asking yourself if the behavior is lawful, kind, respectful, honest or helpful. If it isn’t going to further the cause of liberty, love and brotherhood with all people — don’t say it or don’t do it.
You can also join the march for tolerance, racial unity and peace online, right now. In the old days, people had to gather in a public place to march (to be seen and heard) and draw attention to a cause. You can now reach the world at home through social media.
Visit www.itakethechallenge.com to read more about how to join the march for tolerance and peace on social media. Make a sign, then film a video or take a picture and post them on social media with your commitment to be the solution. Use #iamthesolution with your post. I took the challenge and my video is on Facebook.
Then, directly challenge (call out) three of your friends or neighbors to do the same. Together we could literally flood social media with videos and pictures of people advocating for love, tolerance and unity. Then (and most importantly) back it up with your behavior this year. Make a commitment to actually live what you profess.
Don’t wait to act on this. Do it today. Don’t worry about how you look or the quality of the film. Just do it.
If Martin Luther King Jr. was still here and was organizing a march in your town today, would you join in? Would you be willing to speak out and let the world know that you commit to see all people as equal in value and deserving of respect, justice, tolerance and love?
This is your chance.
The world needs to see and hear from the silent majority who don’t make the news and who aren’t racist, angry or intolerant. It needs to hear from people who understand looting and anger aren’t going to change things. It needs to hear from you.
We need to flood the Internet in 2015 with commitments of peace, equality and love. Remember if you aren’t part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Please do something.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular coach and speaker.