Where do we need to integrate?
If integration can include a change in schools when you were in elementary or helping the homeless or literally learning a new language the options are endless on how we can accept different, grow and evolve. We can and should integrate.
Now should, why “should” you say? Well truth alert here! … Because despite the religious or spiritual or atheist belief you have, there are some common human morals that can cross so many of those bridges. Morals like: Treating others the way you would like to be treated. We’ve forgotten that one! We use to hold so greatly to this. Treating people with a kind heart because it just plum felt good, and in-turn looking for that treatment too. You see this answer would even include, feeding those who are hungry because you too would like food. Also, housing someone because you too would like a roof over your head and heat on your toes. How about life skills? Budgeting? Meal preparation? Education/Support to all! Education as adults can be much more strategic. If you are a reader, or a visual or a doer, there are now unlimited FREE ways to educate yourself on any one topic. What if we all just sought out the expert so we stop thinking we have to do it all.
But how can we do that, we can’t just house everyone, educate everyone, love everyone. Right? Or can we? Have we already made huge steps to do just that we just didn’t know where to look? As you see one of my passions unfolding on the pages, what if we could?
As a visual let’s bring to mind all the times you had to learn a new job.
Employers pay you for new employee training. Get to know the lay of the land. You know, get to know the “lingo we use here”, btw, I actually had a manager say that on my hire day once. ?
You’ve been really excited about this job, it’s in your field of interest and you are just on cloud nine.
Fast forward 3 weeks… Your partner is worried about you; you’ve been irritable and anxious, and you are starting to second guess the job choice. Your old boss said you could come back if things didn’t work out. Sure, it’s not in your field and dead end but at least it’s consistent. You guess the job work is okay but you just can’t figure out why your co-workers are so distant. Which is now making it nearly impossible for you to find the balance. Dragging it home you find that even the home life is stressing you out and your on edge all the time.
Then you realize you are in transition, you are learning to integrate into a whole new world at this company. Sure the work was challenging but it’s what you love to do. You realize you’ve felt kinda solo at your new work, you don’t feel like you fit in with your coworkers and you’re not sure it will work.
We’ve all had this kind of job. Some may be disguised as a good deal but more times than not it’s about how we are adjusting to the new, vs. the problem being what was already there. Change is difficult don’t get me wrong. Integrating can even be harder, because it requires some compromise or what I like to call “letting go of what doesn’t serve you”. Not always are you interested in letting go of what doesn’t serve because we’ve convinced ourselves that it is serving us for one reason or another.
However, the compromise itself can be painless. Maybe your old job you had the shop talk coffee breaks, you know where you talk about the job even on your “break. This new place they all talk about their personal lives. That’s a bit to adjust to if you haven’t ever known that environment in the workplace. But on the grand scale of things pretty minor. And yes, sometimes the mindset is what isn’t serving you. The mindset of: at break you only “talk shop”. At first talking personally with co-workers may be uncomfortable. However, that may be leading to your sense of isolation in your new work place. They have an environment at that business to get to know people personally in order to understand how to work with them. The other work place learned through the technical knowledge you had about the work at hand. Both avenues are dynamics within work places. Neither better or worse just different. This is only one example of many different dynamics we face on a daily basis through the process of integration.
Though we’ve all felt this uncomfortability when we recognize the new, changes, transition or attempt at integration, we give ourselves the time to pause. Patience with ourselves can help assist in alleviating the questioning mind. We musn’t give up, we adapt / integrate / evolve and patience is there for us the whole way. But, we MUST give OURSELF the Patience!
Now, I’ve talked about the minor sides of integration. But, let’s face it something about the title of the book had you pick it up so that you could find ways to integrate. These amount many may have been some of those questions. Like Racial diversities, LGBTQAI community, The Me Too Movement, Women’s Rights, Homelessness, Inequalities, Political Upheavals, spiritual discord. Oh, yeah I mentioned some of the big ones. So, how is, you connecting differently in a new job going to help with any of those. ?(I’m smiling right!)?
The said “fight” that is so big is all about the little steps. We still have a racial divide in our country (I’m in the US by the way). We are only now seeing laws change for the LGBTQAI community with marriage rights. The Me Too Movement is making a huge display of inequality and these are just to name a few. With the state of the new diseases/viruses we also face we have this push being felt on a global level. Political Upheavals have turned into a way of life, inequalities are being highlighted daily. Not to negate the importance of any of the vast amounts of groups screaming for integration. The fight is large right now!
And I get that! I started one of my largest integrations at the age of 17, in the mid 90s, when I came out as a lesbian. The look back didn’t happen for 25 years.
The 90’s where a very forward time for the LGBT community, in the Pacific NW. (Please note, when I refer to my past work with the LGBT community I am not for a loss of the QAI however in my work QAI were yet a part of the community on a public scale. They were part of the community but would identify in one of the other categories, as we in the Lesbian and Gay community did prior to BT (Bi-sexual, Transgender) being added. Little LGBT history for you all.) Back to the 90s, from the outside, we looked angry. And I suppose some of us where. More so, we were fighting, fighting for a community involvement we were told as children we could have. Then we came out and it was all ripped away. We didn’t want to be treated the way our elders in the LGBT community had once been treated. We wanted legal marriage, legal children, equal paying jobs, equal opportunity for those jobs, equal housing, adoption rights, and the list goes on. We were tired of being fired, evicted, dishonorably discharged, and attacked verbally emotionally and dreadfully physically all for being gay. So, we were the warrior generation! Friends and I kept the fight up publicly for 10 years. Society started to change. I could feel safe at establishments other than a gay bar. But, it was still sometimes too scary to walk alone to your car at night.
I unknowingly continued the “fight” but without the anger, yet never without the pain that bleed from my community, still craving integration. I was a LGBT Political advocate for 20 years. The only thing that lay in front of me was my drive to be able to one day marry the woman of my dreams. To sign a legal marriage document has yet to happen for me, as my 11 year “marriage” was legally a civil union in the state we were from. So, though my dad had joked, once upon a time, I had 2 marriages and not a single divorce, I now count it in the reverse. I have once divorce and not a legal marriage, yet. ? When laws have not done much to support you, you find ways to redefine the language!
I was in a way, forced to integrate everyone with my world, because very few were asking. I was an advocate who expressed my world so as to not have people judge for the action without education only speculation. I wanted to educate to allow me the opportunity to live my life the way I chose. I’ve been the educator of my landlords, my employers, my professors, my doctors all in attempt to get what I needed with the understanding of some parts of me that made me different than what was speculated. This was where ignorance had to be educated. Ignorance had the potential to be dangerous for me and my community if not addressed one person at a time. Now please note ignorance in my world is not a bad thing. Ignorance is only the result of a lack of knowledge. It’s when you force your ignorance onto others to conform, that’s when ignorance becomes harmful.
You see integration first starts with integrating with your beliefs and your sense of self. Once you have that then you can integrate with others. However it always needs to be a willingness to grow your beliefs into a shared understanding. That is how self blends with others to understand, bridge, and integrate with community. You’ll try a variety of ways to express YOU and that then leads to you building a bridge of your own that others can cross as well. You then are able to be the educator of your language making for mutual understanding.
Once integrating with yourself you will start to see things in ways you never thought could be. You connect with people in ways that allow for you to see them for what they stand for, as much as they can see, what you stand for. There is a courteousness and vulnerability involved in seeing each other for both our positives, negatives, our skills, talents, hopes, dreams, desires, and needs.
Once you have ceased your judgements towards yourself and found your true belief about something, it’s then when you’re ready to test it out. A belief can’t be threatened unless you let it. You’re belief doesn’t have to change in order for you to understand and accept others for having their own beliefs. Take off the training wheels and take it for a spin! Once you learn the vehicle then you add to that by learning the rules of the road. Integrating yourself will allow you to see and hear all those areas that need to open to implement integration on the grander scale.
When I was working in the 1990s early 2000s on political work I had no idea that I would be a part of the campaign, during a very active election cycle, that would tie up 20 years of work that I never knew I was doing.
On election day November 6, 2012 in Washington State by a vote of the people, marriage for same sex couples was legalized. That vote created a domino effect across the country in the coming years. As of June 2015 all 50 states it is now legal to have a same sex marriage. I worked the campaign in while sitting on a local equality board and assisting the business development of the Referendum in my county of Washington State. I had the honor of ensuring the State Rep., who originally sponsored the bill, was interviewed on election night as the vote came in. I also had the honor of attending the first legal marriage in the United States (at this point the only legal “marriage” was a civil union that did not offer the same benefits that a marriage license does) that took place at 12:01am on December 9, 2012, in Clark County Washington. We had done it! We had something that for myself, I had fought my whole adult life!
All of my little steps that I had taken for 20 years (my little pebbles), all of the sudden had their own map (I had a big lake now). I never would of known. But, now that I realize just how little the steps are that can make the biggest waves…It gave me hope again!
If you would like to hear more about what this realization did to prompt my passion, stay tuned for my next book where I dive into my 60 day 8000 mile journey.
Now, there is also the option of being convinced you have the only bridge and that all should find yours.
We do need to address both sides.
This is an interesting thought. It reminds me of the oh so famous book, (well in my family it is) Who Moved My Cheese by: Dr. Spencer Johnson. You see, those who have the mentality that all should bridge with them and never they learn to find other bridges, is waiting for the cheese to arrive on a silver platter. BTW, Spoiler Alert! The mouse in the book that waits for the silver platter of cheese, doesn’t make it to the end of the book. Learn about the bigger world and it will always make your bridge bigger therefore allowing many more to find the bridge you desire. And it starts with knowing where and what the condition of your own bridge is.
Remember if we force people to be just like “us” or the way we want it done, we aren’t integrating others we’re requiring they conform to the “us”! Integration is a blend of all ourselves into our world. It starts with YOU!
This Sunday Chapter 3 of the book “Why Integrate?”