I was wrong.
When I was a young woman, perhaps 14 or 15 years old, I engaged in an uncomfortable act of introspection. I saw myself as competitive, and prideful, and unwilling to admit fault. I was equally unwilling to accept these aspects of myself unchallenged. I committed myself to action, determined to improve my character. I decided that when I found myself to be at fault, I would physically speak the words: I was wrong.
This memory is seared in my heart. Because when the first opportunity arrived, the words stuck in my chest. They burned in my throat. And I spit them out with a fire to conceal the pain of my growth.
I am still committed to this action, 15 years later. It has become easier with time and practice, and I am proud of the change it has forged in my character. But I must admit that I still have a long way to grow. I am acutely aware of the shame and discomfort that can accompany taking an honest look at oneself and openly admitting fault without reservation or excuse or clarification. I fully appreciate the resistance engendered by standing stark naked before the mirror of self-reflection and recognizing: I am wrong.
In our current social/cultural/political climate, I have witnessed the lamenting chorus of: how did we get here? and where do we go from here? I also yearn for answers to these questions. And the answer that feels true in my heart is this: we got here through fear. We let fear lead us. We let fear limit our love. The foundation of the problem is fear.
Here I must make an apology. In the consideration of how we got here, I realize I have made a grave mistake. In my zeal for equality, in my zest for social change – I forgot. I forgot about the discomfort and resistance. I held up the mirror to other people’s fears and I did so with callousness and disdain. I forgot what it was like to be 14 years old and facing that mirror myself for the first time. I forgot to be careful of your heart. I was wrong.
This is the other side of the fear that got us to where we are now. We asked a lot of people to face their very significant fears. This is hard enough when it is undertaken willfully, in the privacy of one’s own heart. How much more difficult when the mirror is held up by a judgmental stranger. I am sorry if I have ever been that stranger to you. Because I know that is not the path to change. The path to change is love; and I believe that every person, every person, every, single, person, deserves to be unconditionally loved – if not for themselves, than for me. As my mother taught me: you cannot be in the light if you hold another in the darkness.
So – where do we go from here? My commitment is this: I will continue to hold up the mirror to any and all instances of inequality, or intolerance, or fear that I encounter; but I will do so with love. I will do so with patience. I will do so with all the tender care that your heart deserves.
And I’m committed to look in that mirror myself when it is held up for me; to look square in the eyes of my soul with courage and honesty; to banish any fearful limits on my love; and when necessary, to admit when I am wrong.