As I wrap up my time as an intern with Team Humans, I know I am not wrapping up my devotion to their mission. It is a noble mission of love, acceptance, and a move towards a more peaceful world. Being able to reflect on what their values meant to me and on a broader perspective was an experience that put me more in tune with myself and broadened my world view. Below are my reflections, published over the last few months, on what Team Human’s values mean to me.
As stated by Team Humans, this means, “All humans by virtue of their humanity are entitled to be treated with basic human dignity. Nothing anyone does can diminish or enhance one’s claim to dignity.” This value carries a very special meaning to me, and many of the people I have worked with. Dignity is the basis of human existence, the starting point of every interaction and grounds center our remaining three values.
Without maintaining human dignity, we have nothing. I have seen and worked with those whose dignity seems to be challenged in more ways than I can count. One of the most heartbreaking things in the world is to see the look in a person’s eyes when they feel they have had their dignity stripped away from them.
Confronting issues that challenge this basic principle can make all of us uncomfortable, and often we turn away. It is our duty as a human race to ensure the dignity of all by all. There is amazing work going on in our communities centered around human dignity. If you would like to get involved with any of them, or with Team Humans, send us an email and we will do our best to connect you with resources!
Universality: The idea that “the universal nature of the human condition transcends any notion of separateness.” Our mission is based around this notion. The things in this life of any consequence: love, loss, and laughter to name just a few, are accessible and have gravitas to us all, regardless of nation, tongue or creed. An authentic understanding of our shared experience always leads us to a place of awe, respect, and ultimately an unwavering sense of mutuality to our brothers and sisters around us. Archbishop Tutu put it this way, “The truth is we need each other. We cannot survive and thrive without one another (...) We can be truly free, ultimately, only together. We can be human only together, black and white, rich and poor, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jew.”
Universality drives us to want every human to have the richest experience possible. Yet we recognize that not everyone will have equal access to a rich human experience, through no fault of their own. We encourage you to take some time today to consider who might that be and how contemplating the value of universality can give help you use your unique platform, opportunity, and voice to support those others!
If you google the word “diversity,” one of the definitions listed is, “the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.” I found this definition to be much more helpful as it moves beyond acknowledging diversity (i.e. the fact that diversity exists) and introduces the idea of embracing diversity by virtue of inclusion.
Embracing diversity is going to look different to different people based on their culture, circumstances and lived experiences. That said, the desire to embrace diversity flows from a shared value of reverence and appreciation for the human person. When I think about diversity, a young, white, middle (or upper?) class woman raised in North Carolina) the first thing that comes to my mind is how I can use privileges that afforded to me, solely associated with my race and class to benefit others. My white privilege is unseen, yet undeniable, and I’ve come to recognize it comes with responsibility and choice. I choose to use it as a catalyst for changing racial, religious, ethnic, and gender relations. I choose to seek opportunities to create a more inclusive world that more consistently embraces and upholds the value of diversity for all.
May we begin by paying more attention to disparities in our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our school systems, and beyond. I’ve found once I start looking for where we can create change, I notice more injustice and it’s impossible to unsee. While uncomfortable, the mixture of emotions this elicits gives me strength and conviction to move forward. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu shares, “We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another”. This has always been true and requires persons of goodwill like you and me to make real in our world.
Encountering others in an authentic way is something that is often overlooked. When I joined this organization, I had never heard someone refer to this as a value, but it quickly became one of my favorite things we focus on as a team. The simple act of authentic encounter may have the greatest potential to transform the world. Alongside love, it’s probably the best known antidote to fear.
Working with children has taught me just how perceptive people are sensing authentic encounter, even at a young age. Here are some tips for making your interactions more meaningful! Try them out today and also share found works best in your practice!
-Eye contact: this shows a person that your focus is on them.
-Listen to understand, not to respond: you may have a great point to contribute, but let them complete their thought first. Let them know you hear them. This can lead to much deeper conversations and understanding of the people and world around you.
-Validate others’ feelings: just because their feelings are different from yours does not make them less valid. Every feeling stems from experience, and that is valid. Even if you cannot fully comprehend their experience, let them know they have every right to feel whatever they feel.
-Step into their shoes: this can help you validate them! Ask more questions, and take some time to think about how a situation or experience may have made them feel. This can make us more compassionate and make daily interactions more meaningful. If a person can see that you are genuinely interested in trying to understand their feelings, a much deeper bond begins to form.
-Smile: this action, while so small, can completely transform a person’s mood and perception of events and interactions throughout the day. Ordinary actions can carry extraordinary consequences.
These seem simple, but can become difficult if we are angry or having a bad day. Let each interaction be a new one, not tainted by your attitude towards the day. Together, let’s do our best to let each interaction be a learning and appreciative experience.
I am grateful to have been able to work with this team and look forward to seeing everything they accomplish. Thank you for welcoming me to the Team Humans family with such open arms.