I’ve recently gotten pretty excited about Ash Beckham’s latest TED talk. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Her message was twofold, and so there are two important lessons I took from it.
She talks about closets and how we all have them. I think it is fair to say that most people have something that they hide away from others; they are afraid that this thing will make them unloved and unwanted. Beckham encourages us to overcome this fear, and be authentic. “All a closet is, is a hard conversation,” she says, “The experience of being in and coming out of a closet is universal. It is scary, and we hate it, and it needs to be done.” She goes on to discuss that we can all make arguments how whose closet is harder to be in, but hard is hard and it doesn’t matter. “I am here to tell you, no matter what your walls are made of, a closet is no place for a person to live.” Amen!
It reminds me of another popular TED talk: Brene Brown’s talk on vulnerability. She helps define courage for us, “Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” Courage is what it takes to be in our skin as our Heavenly Parents made us and know that we are loveable, no matter what is in the closet.
The second lesson I took from Beckham’s TED talk was about the way we approach others who don’t understand us. At the same time that we are all dealing with our own closets, we are often not very cognizant of the space other people are living in. And sometimes they are not cognizant of the space we are trying to occupy. And sometimes we do and say hurtful things to each other, because we are more interested in being understood than understanding, or helping others to understand.
And I get it, because I’ve been on both sides of this line. I have entered into conversations blinded by my own privileges and prejudices and I’ve said offensive and stupid things. I’ve also been the one shielding myself in a conversation where someone else is blinded by privilege and prejudice and is saying offensive and stupid things to me, about me.
As someone who has been bruised by privilege, I know it is not my job to gently guide perpetrators to an understanding of my point of view. But… as someone who has stupidly stumbled over my privilege, I do wish we’d all try that a little more. As Beckham says, it is “easy to point out where [others fall] short. It’s a lot harder to meet them where they are and acknowledge the fact that they are trying. And what else can you ask someone to do but try?”
Pondering all of this as brought me back to something pretty simple:
Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
And from another prophet: