Who Are You is an Album and its title song by The Who. It is also, however, what I would like to ask anyone reading this blog. To add to the question, let’s think of adding the words “who are you better than?” Take a moment to think about who you are better than. Are you better than the person who is younger/older? taller/shorter? richer/poorer? More or less conservative/liberal? How about the person who follows a different faith tradition (or no faith tradition)? Has more/less abilities? Lighter/darker skin? More/less hair?
Before you answer, I hope you realize that this is a trick question. As soon as we start to think that we are better than another person for whatever reason we are entertaining racist thoughts. I know that in strict terms, racist thoughts would only be thoughts concerning race. I, however, view racist/sexist/ageist/etc thoughts as the same concept, referred to here as racist. As soon as we see ourselves as better than another person we are not treating that person with dignity and respect.
In Mandt we talk about always treating everyone with dignity and respect. In order to treat a person with dignity and respect we can not think of ourselves as better than them. We can not treat one person better or worse than we treat someone else because of some random fact.
So far I don’t believe that too many people would argue or disagree with what I have written. Where this becomes difficult, however, is applying this to everyday life. Take a look at any of your recent discussions, social media posts, writings, or thoughts. How many of us have thought/said/posted something derogatory about another person or group? How many have thought that group or person to be inferior/stupid/lazy/or just less than us?
So, when asked who are you (or who are you better than), stop and think (affirm the feeling and choose the behavior). Are we going to be a good role model of everything we train in Mandt or are we going to fall to the base instincts of humans? People seem to think they can elevate themselves by lowering others. When we try to lower others or boost ourselves at others’ expense we only serve to harm our relationships.
Let’s all be good practitioners of the Mandt philosophy and eliminate (at least work on reducing to the lowest level possible) all those negative thoughts, posts, etc. It is only when we can lead by example that we teach or train effectively.
Dr.Dale Shannon – Mandt Faculty