Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Facing reality

Under pressure.

A presentation to make this morning -- it was moved late yesterday from Friday to today. I'm feeling the pressure. The stress. I'm not ready.

I breathe.

I know my subject matter. Homelessness. I'm good on my feet. I've got four hours to finish off the powerpoint. I'll be okay.

Where the learning comes is in my agreement to change the date. I was asked. I agreed.

What's with that?

Was I trying to be accommodating? Or, was I simply too afraid to say no?

A bit of both. Mixed with a belief -- I can do anything I set my mind to.

I'd best take Mark Twain's advice and load my presentation with statistics. He said, "I've come loaded with statistics, for I've noticed that a man can't prove anything without statistics."

My presentation is to a group of police sergeants. My goal, to shift their perceptions of homelessness. To awaken their empathy. Statistics don't open minds. Human stories, real stories of real people, they touch hearts and open minds.

Dump the statistics. Go for the heart.

It's not that the audience isn't empathetic. It is that they are accustomed to dealing with people under duress, often at their worst. In particular, street people.

Ask a client at the shelter where I work, and they are bound to have a horror story of an encounter with a police officer. It is part of the collective consciousness of homelessness. "Police are the enemy."

It is not a positive aspect of the consciousness, but it is a reality. To create the world we want, we must first deal with the world the way it is, in all its stark relief. Not the world as we'd like it, but rather the world as it currently exists. By acknowledging what is, we create opportunities for change, for growth, for creating what we want in the world.

Reality is, homeless individuals consider police with jaundiced eyes. Many have had negative experiences.

Reality is, some police consider homeless individuals with jaundiced eyes. Many have had negative experiences.

The difference is in where the power lies.

My job this morning is to open the eyes of those with the power, the police, to the possibility of change, to the opportunity for shifting perspectives that will lead to a more constructive relationship with those on the fringes of our society.

Next step. To present to clients of the shelter a worldview different than the collective view they share whenever they tell their victim stories. To open them up to the possibilities of creating new stories, different stories, new opportunities.

I cannot change the world. I can do my best to create the opportunity for change in the world around me by turning up, paying attention, speaking my truth and staying unattached to the outcome.

The question is: What about you? How entrenched are you in the victim story you tell to keep yourself from stepping into the possibilities of life beyond the comfort zone of your well-worn tale of woe? How open are you to acknowledging your reality and opening yourself up to the truth of the power within you to change your world?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck today!