Being Open: Modeling the Need to Talk about the Hard Stuff

It wasn’t that long ago when I grew a bit wiser about the power of moving from tolerance to understanding. During this period, I was being asked to confront my privilege in life as it relates to race, and I realized that tolerance alone wasn’t a healthy place for me. For me, it wasn’t enough to say that I was tolerant of another person or a group of people. As a learner and someone with a desire to search for fairness, truth, and justice, I knew that I wanted and needed to grow into a place of fresh understanding at all of the places along the ladder of inference from events, patterns, assumptions, and mental models when it came to my understanding of how race impacted our society. I knew that a journey toward understanding was a healthy path beyond tolerance.

On the surface, many of us will say that we have had this realization and are in a space of understanding instead of tolerance, but I wonder how deep this runs across the many “ism” including classism, sexism, racism that infect our opportunity for a healthy society. As a country, we have had almost fifty years of work surrounding race following the Civil Rights Movement, and there has been a lot of growth in understanding (plenty more to do), but what about our movement from tolerance to understanding when it comes to sexual orientation? Can we grow our understanding at a quicker rate than we did with race? Can we avoid the same mistakes? Can we engage in a healthy conversation? Can we ask the right questions?

I seek fresh understanding in this area too. Watching the video below from United States Womens National Team member Megan Rapinoe gives me hope that we can talk about tough issues like sexual orientation in sports, not only womens’ sports, but mens’ sports, in shorter order than our fits and starts about race in sports over the last decades. I’m not sure about other places and spaces. Help me on my journey for greater understanding, and forgive me for the places in my journey that leave me awkward and without the right
words.