Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Life Lessons through Self Reflection: Racism, Change and Jeremy Lin

Our history is full of examples of how we are slow to accept change. From new ideas or ways of being to enigmatic and bold political and public figures - most people are resistant to the change that they represent. The recent racist headlines, referring to basketball player Jeremy Lin, points to people’s intolerance and inflexibility to change. A quick recap can be read here (...)

The collective consciousness, ruled by the ego, remains intact because of the unwritten rule that we unconsciously ascribe to: that we must follow what has always been. The ego is threatened when someone breaks out of his or her imposed box.  Fear fuels the outward expressions of insult, racism or cruelty. The fear is: What if they succeed? What if they succeed at being more authentically themselves than me? Most people fear other people’s success because they believe that there is not enough for everyone.

Living with a limiting view of yourself or the world lends to unjustified negative reactions. And these negative reactions are often aimed at the person who pushes beyond the boundaries of the expected.

This story had me reflect on my own life and evaluate the times that I’ve resisted change by falling prey to short expectations. When I was a young boy, I was a swimmer with a swim club. The typical build of a swimmer is lean and strong. One girl, who was about 5’9’’ and close to 200 pounds, did not fit the stereotype. In my own limiting beliefs, I did not think that she would be able to swim competitively. That misperception kept me from being open to possibilities and the power that change brings. This young girl not only proved to be a great swimmer – when she entered the water she became a fish: quick, agile and strong. But she became our team leader and great friend. Because of her courage to break the mold of what has always been, she helped change my belief in what is possible. 

Jeremy Lin’s success demonstrates again that we need to let go of expectations. What we think a person can or cannot do or be is limiting and a judgment. Harsh criticisms are a reflection of the judger and not the judged. They point to someone’s limited perspective and resistance to change. For me, Jeremy Lin represents new talent, new energy and a welcome change.

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