What Makes You Uncomfortable?

Last week, within minutes of posting my blog about the “Women’s Choice” Statement Cards, I received an comment about my project. It was from a gentleman I hadn’t heard from in quite some time. We met back in 2011 at a conference that the company we both worked for hosted. He is a great guy, from what I remembered and I was happy to hear from him.

Of course, what he had to say was a not what I wanted to hear, but that comes with the territory when you decide to speak things and of things that no one else is comfortable talking about. I would like to believe that I responded to his email as compassionately as possible. That I wasn’t rude, or mean, or flippant of his views. That was not my intention.

Post launch of my first S2 Awareness Project, I started to wonder why is it so hard to hear things we don’t want to hear. Why do we take this personally? Why do we shun each other or, rather, stop talking about the important things because of our response to criticism or opposing views?

It made me wonder what else are we afraid of talking about? What else makes us uncomfortable? Race is already a given. Abortion equates to going to hell. Politics, I can’t even begin there. Gun violence and control gets the militias on attack.  I know there are countless other topics that are worthy of real, honest conversation, but we aren’t talking about them. So what are they?

A few nights ago on NPR, I was listening to a segment and they mentioned in regards to the topic of racism in education that people need to open dialogue about the real issues behind the problems. To give you more background, they were talking about how in one particularly diverse town, the school system is segregated. You would see White and Black and Latino kids walking around the halls together, but in the class room, all the white kids were in AP/advanced courses and all the regular classes were filled with Black and Latino kids and no one was talking about it. The administrators who could see the problem could not speak out because the parents of the White kids would object. As the writer behind this story kept talking about how the parents in this town need to keep talking, all I could wonder about was how many times have I heard this? We have so much to talk about! When are we going to talk? When are we going to stop worrying about how racist or mean or ugly we seem/sound and speak what we need to speak? How much are we all holding in? What would your truth sound like if you could afford to be vulnerable?

The first part of change is admitting something. So let’s admit to each other, “What makes me uncomfortable…” You can email (saras [at] s2stationery [dot] com) me if you don’t want to leave a comment below. You can tweet me what makes you uncomfortable with the hashtag #Iamuncomfortableabout.

I promise I’m not in this to judge. Nor am I going to make a card for all of our discomforts. Instead, I am going to see how we can break our discomfort and come out on the other side a little bit more victorious. It could be interesting, or disturbing. We’ll see.  I look forward to hearing your truths and discomforts. Let’s build this bridge piece by piece.

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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

One thought on “What Makes You Uncomfortable?”

  1. It’s me, again!

    Couple of things…

    1) I didn’t get a reply from you and it seemed you must have replied from your newest post. So if you had a message for me, it never made it to the destination.

    I hope my reply to the first email wasn’t flippant, rude or mean… But expressing a second, valid way of looking at things from a different angle…

    Side note 1- First time ever blogged about = milestone

    Side note 2 – I am a gentleman! Awesome.

    2) Good 2nd post S2 awareness project – now you have gotten to a subject that I REALLY want to talk about.

    Background since 2011 – I read a paradigm shifting book called “When Helping Hurts” – faith based book discussing how we truly help people out of poverty and what poverty is, and isn’t. I recommend it to ANYONE regardless of faith. Through subsequent readings it led me to another book by a guy named David Livermore on Cultural Intelligence and ministry. “Cultural Intelligence – improving you CQ to engage in a multicultural world”. The point of CQ is to be mindful, empathetic, aware, and understanding that we constantly deal with the “other” (someone different from us in some way or another) and that they are looking at the world through their own lenses…. And we are wearing OUR own lenses. That actually led to a lot of more reading on worldview, what constitutes a worldview, and a lot of introspection.

    I left CalOils/MC in February of this year to be a consultant on my own. I actually still do work for them in the seed world, but I wanted the flexibility to do ministry work and engage with others (something a MC company wasn’t going to understand). I sit on the board of a ministry for slum kids in São Paulo and work with refugees coming to the Sacramento area.

    I am currently a weird mix of philosophies… I read a lot of books that would be considered liberal, but at my base are conservative principles.

    Portions of what makes up a worldview, everyone’s worldview – Religious, Economic, Political, Scientific. Add in all the other components of culture and you have uniquely designed individuals that fit within their culture groups.

    Anyway, back to the point… Example: I hold very pro-immigrant, pro-refugee viewpoints…but for me, it is in part due to my conservative principles. My viewpoint: I see it as important that we help our neighbor and stranger in our land (adherence to faith component) and even though there is state support of refugees, the entire process is designed to get them OFF the welfare rolls and standing on their own two feet. It is a really cool thing when you get invited to the house of some someone you helped for them to host you in a feast… you are walking together…. And helping each other. I am digressing again. My final point is, I hold very conservative principles when it comes to politics and economics, but also a strong faith based component (and they conflict sometimes)… so I have to choose what wins. I would say that someone with liberal viewpoints would have the same dilemma, if they are honest. As you can tell, I have spent a lot of time examining my own worldview, opinions, predispositions… and asking “why?”

    So to the questions from Post #2.

    QUOTE

    I started to wonder why is it so hard to hear things we don’t want to hear. Why do we take this personally? Why do we shun each other or, rather, stop talking about the important things because of our response to criticism or opposing views?

    It made me wonder what else are we afraid of talking about? What else makes us uncomfortable?

    UNQUOTE

    My answer: We don’t want to look through the lens of the other. We don’t want to understand it the way the Other sees it. We want them to see it the way WE see it. We certainly aren’t aware that we are looking at the issue with lenses of our own.

    Couple of Examples of why things break down.

    1- Abortion

    a. Pro-Choice’s lens of self –> Protecting Women and their Rights

    b. Pro-Choice’s lens of other viewpoint –> Attacking and Oppressing Women

    c. Pro-Life’s lens of self –> Protecting a life that will be a person

    d. Pro-Life’s lens of other viewpoint –> Attacking and ending a person’s life

    In some ways, it’s two different conversations. If we never acknowledge the validity or understand the other conversation… it is destined to be a fight.

    2- Gun Control/Gun Violence

    The problem is that the root problem is never addressed. As soon as the discussion starts the groups begin to defend the political positions of Gun Rights vs Gun Control and the conversation ends without addressing the problem – people being hurt and killed by other people.

    3- Race.

    Same thing. I get the core message of the Black Lives Matter movement. My problem is they are doing it in such a way as to guarantee it won’t be heard. People are going to get in the Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter debate…(which is asinine, but both sides are insisting on having it) and the real issue will never be addressed. Again, I get it… I really do… but it is perpetuating the problem(symptoms) they want to address and ensuring it continues.

    Again, the problem isn’t that we are afraid of talking about, it is that we don’t want to hear or understand the other side… or admit that we come to the table with a worldview/lens of our own. We don’t want to listen. As an example of Steven Covey’s habit of “seek first to understand, then be understood”, he writes… “We listen more often in order to respond, rather than to understand”. We want to talk about what makes me uncomfortable, but we really don’t want to know what makes YOU uncomfortable. That is part of you blog, and I applaud that. However, it won’t be solved, until we can begin to understand it from the other side AND why we view things the way we do…. And be brutally honest with ourselves.

    What did we learn from that conference in 2011?? To problem solve, you get a diverse group, and see each other’s views… brainstorm to try to define the problem and ensure you aren’t solving the symptom. What if solving the problem goes against your political or economic worldview???… you have to be honest enough to try to see what the problem or “gap” between current and desired actually is…. And then figure out what is the problem… THEN you find the solution. Too often, we have positions we want to defend… and we want to be heard about those positions. But they are either symptoms OR we don’t want to listen and understand.

    ….. your turn

    Your favorite Conservative Texan

    ===========================================================================================

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