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The Twenty Month Season (Part 1)

Well, here we are.

At the end of a year that everyone wants to forget, I know everyone is ready for the new year and all the change that putting 2020 behind us means. With the coming of a vaccine and a new president, we have definitely turned a corner, but I hope to use this traditionally giving season to put 2021 in a clearer perspective. I know that much of this may come off as a downer. But if you got through 2020, I know you can take it. More importantly, it is vital that we walk into the new year with a lucid sense of where we are.

Vaccine zombies, angry militia, conspiracy theorists and all other manner of wacky distraction notwithstanding, I am trying to change my focus for the coming year.

I, like so many of you have had a terrible year in so many ways. As a single, middle-age, overweight, non-relationship(ed), sole-dwelling, gig economy dependent, small business owning Black man; I check many of the boxes that have made 2020 the scariest of my life. My constant companion is loneliness. It periodically invites depression and fear to come over and stare me down. Some days their gaze keeps me unable to get out of bed.

Most days I stare back and they melt into some dark corner to reorganize. I go on less affected, but fully aware of their muted presence. Even that simple knowledge would be crushing if not for a few things that I hold on to.

1. I have things to do that I know will not get done without me.

2. I believe that those things will make other people’s lives better.

3. If I don’t do them, then I am (in part) responsible other people’s lives not getting better.

On top of that, I try to put gratitude into motion. There’s so much we can and should be grateful for, even in this grim… grim time.

I still have a home. I still have a job. At least for now. I have a host of wonderful friends and family and a church that I know have my back as best they can. My house is INSANELY clean right now. And through the grace of God, Covid death has stayed at least two degrees of separation from me. On top of all that, I am not the lifeline of someone much younger than me who need me to make sense of a world that makes less sense than ever. Gratitude is Key.

We (arguably) still live in the most materially blessed country in the world, EVER! I try to hold on to that not just as a point of pride, but as a point of responsibility. The overused Spider-man adage rings too true right now: “With great power come great responsibility.”

The year 2021 will come with great responsibility, and I am going to do all I can to rise to it. It is a scary aspiration, so I hope that some of you will come along with me. Learning. Challenging. Sharing. Growing and Changing.

1. My Newsletter

In addition to the little informational links I put in newsletter, I will have added a section that will give you an opportunity to see who else is doing the necessary work. More importantly, people who need your help. I hope you continue to read and even pass on what I am putting out there.

2. The (all too) Human Condition

The levels of hunger, homelessness, mental and emotional decay, joblessness, and death are only going to get worse for a while. Much of it is a byproduct of the virus, but these things were a reality for far too many long before.

I believe that we are dealing with the levels of societal fracture because we have taken too lightly the responsibility that comes with all the comfort and privilege. People with the ability to ease suffering and ease division did not step into the breach. Pick whichever breach you want. Racial. Financial. Educational. Religious. Political. It matters little because they all overlap. It has allowed our discussion and expression of these problems to live a poles of problems. The extreme poles. I have said it before and I will say it now. Most of us live in the middle, yet we have abdicated that space to the lazy and oversimplified. Not all of us, but too many of us.

Tis the season to change.

3. My Plan

In the spring I wrote an essay called The 360 Spectrum: From White Head to Black Dead.

In it I laid out a system of fear, ignorance, and worst of all apathy that has been destroying Black people for centuries here. I say in the piece that these corrosive triplets have never been exclusive to people of my hue. It is an active feature of the soul crushing machine. Sadly, the machine has been working overtime in 2020.

2021 will show us the products of that grim…grim (am I saying grim too much?) work in ways that will try to stare us all down. It will bring every dark companion along in an effort to move us out of its way. So, it can hum along. Crushing life as it hums.

No one person can fix it all, but everyone can have a role.

I am trying to make these 3 points my mantra for as long as I can this season:

1. I have things to do that I know will not get done without me.

2. I believe that those things will make other people’s lives better.

3. If I don’t do them, then I am (in part) responsible other people’s lives not getting better

And by this season, I do not mean the holiday season or the winter season. I am trying to focus on what I am calling “The 20-month Season”.

For as long as our social, political, societal, ethnic and all other manner of American shortcoming have taken to come to this ugly point. I am gonna take at least the next 20 months to learn for myself. Improve myself and share this process with you. I have picked 20 months because that is what some see as the window that it will take for us to get back to a pre-Covid kind of world.

This virus is a metaphor for a societal sickness that has lived in us for too long. It has weakened our spiritual body and compromised our emotional resolve. It has led us to a place where so many will suffer. So many who have been suffering. So many who never believed that they would find themselves in such a place. So many who wake up every morning and wonder if they are next. I know I do. But then, in many ways I always have.

I want to use this time to make sure that I do not go back to a pre-Covid world. I do not want to go back to normal. Normal is what got us here in the first place. I want a better normal, and I’m gonna see how much closer I can get to it in 20 months or so. I don’t know if I have 20 months in me, but that’s what we’re shooting for. I will share much of what I learn in the newsletter. For what may not fit well into the work-related world, I will share on my personal FB page.

“America is a morality tale. Told by the voices you hear the least. Our job is to teach you how to listen.”

Those are the words a father whispers to his new-born daughter at the end of the show “The Movement: 50 Years of Love & Struggle”.

To fix a problem, you have to see the problem. The problem has been seeing ourselves in others. Not the reverse. This is where Empathic Listen and Learning begins. It is also where change begins.

Hopefully, from that, Generative Listening begins. At least this is what Otto Scharmer believes, and he’s way smarter than me. It does make a lot of sense though. To go from “There but for the grace of God go I” to “Through Listening. Good fortune and the divine, I can transform reality. I change lives” is a big shift. The second makes me a player in the human condition. And players are accountable for the outcome of the game.

My next two newsletters will go deeper into details and how you all can help and get rewards out of it all.

For now, I just want to express my deep gratitude and thanks for all of those who have allowed me to do what I do for as long as you have. Dialogues on Diversity has grown only because you see its worth. Your faith in my approach and content honor me and I hope to not let you down.

For whatever the coming year holds for us all, I hope to meet it with you as well as we can with Faith in something bigger than you can see. Hope that we will be capable of rising to the moments. Charity towards all who need it.

We are a social animal. Never meant to live or suffer alone.

I believe in you

I believe in us

You give. I give

Compassion grows


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