Evidence of the Shift

Final in a series

I’ve often written here about feeling overwhelmed, feeling helpless, feeling despairing. At times it seemed the news was all bad.

The Maldives, one of the island nations imperiled by rising seas. Photo by Nevit Dilman, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Maldives, one of the island nations imperiled by rising seas. Photo by Nevit Dilman, via Wikimedia Commons.

At times I feel besieged by evidence that we as a species are beyond hope. Sometimes all I hear is the lowest common denominator outshouting all reason. Sometimes all I see is fear feeding on fear, a downward spiral with no bottom.

Then along comes a hopeful story of human connection, small but significant.

Bethann was at the zoo with her daughter when she heard a man say, “You heard the one about the two Mexicans?” As it happens, Bethann has adopted two children who are not Caucasian. The man had his own young son with him. Bethann stepped up, with nervous heart, determined to make a difference.

Here’s the story in her own words:

“While at the zoo with Bo this morning, a guy with a toddler (loudly) told a joke that started with ‘How many Mexicans does it take…’ I found a moment when he was separated from his group and pointed to Bo and said ‘See that kid? She’s mine and she’s incredible. I can see you love your kid a lot. But, every time you tell one of those jokes, you teach your kid that it’s OK to treat my kid like crap. And, I am sure you don’t mean to teach your child to hurt others, but that is exactly what you just did there.’ He actually quietly said ‘I understand.’ God willing, there will be one more person on this earth who thinks before he teaches his kid to hate.”

Photo by Debbie L., via Flickr Commons

Photo by Debbie L., via Flickr Commons

How stunning that this man, instead of lashing out or being defensive, very quietly said, “I understand.”

To me this is evidence of the shift that Julia Bystrova of Transition US described, the widespread awakening that is already happening. I see it in the way Bethann stood in her center and spoke quietly but strongly to hold this man accountable. I see it in the way she allowed him room to hear her. I see it in his respectful and surprising response.

What evidence have you encountered of this kind of transformation? I’d love to hear your stories.

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