One of the biggest problems we have in today's society is that we continue to judge people. We judge them based on their skin color, how they dress, their heritage, their upbringing, and the list is endless. God forbid if I were to publicly identify myself as a Democrat or a Republican. What kind of label would you put on me then?
The problem is that labels are becoming so ingrained in our society that we have become opposed (or immune) to opening our minds. We have lost the ability to look past the labels to discover who someone really is. Before someone opens his or her mouth, we have already drawn conclusions and opinions about them. Ten years ago, I was much more judgmental than I am today. Writing the book GIVE A DAMN - The Ticket to Cultural Change (which we are in need of now more than ever) led me down a different path. I have worked hard at being non-judgmental. But I, like most of us, am still a work in progress.
Everyone born into this world is dealt a particular hand of cards. These cards include our race, heritage, gender, parents' level of education, socio-economic status, etc. No one can change the cards that they are dealt, but what you make of your cards and what you do to support others going forward is what matters. How we deal with our individual cards will determine who we eventually become. There are so many factors that determine the arrangement of the cards that we are dealt. These include financial resources, exposure to travel, and education, as well as our personal challenges. Some factors we have control over, and others we don't. However, the biggest factor that eventually determines how effectively we use our cards is our mindset - of which we have complete control. This is what a lot of people seem to be missing. We are in control of our attitude. By listening and understanding other perspectives, instead of labeling, judging, or trying to control people, we can spread positivity.
I recently viewed a video of a former Tulsa police officer questioning the destructive actions of people when it comes to Black Lives Matter. His question was: "What have you accomplished by your destructive actions?" It is a great question, but frankly, there is a better one. The real question is: "Would you perform these same destructive actions against someone you love or a family member?" Would the police officer who pressed his knee against George Floyd put the same knee against his mother? Another question would be: "Would you want your actions of destruction against others done to you?" We all know the answer would be a clear "no". It does not matter what color skin you have when you answer this question. The answer is the same.
If you were to ask any individual in this world whether they have faced significant challenges in life, I bet 99% would say, "Yes." It is not a contest where we decide who has suffered the most. Black people arguably have faced many more challenges throughout history than white people, and yet much progress has been made over the years. Of course, there is no argument that more progress is needed.
No one can change what has happened in the past. We must learn from it and move forward. The important point is that we all need to have an open mindset and start with a non-judgmental attitude that helps us work together. It needs to become our internally motivated mantra or goal. All of us should be working together to fix the injustices of the world. The question becomes: What are you going to do about it? Are you going to give a damn? I am encouraged by many stories of how people of all colors have overcome many hardships and still succeeded. We can complain and find excuses for everything that has happened badly in the past, but this accomplishes nothing. There are always effective give and take solutions if we want to change badly enough. No matter our skin color, we should treat others the way we want to be treated. We should always be reminding ourselves of this statement.
My simple message is this: no matter our race, creed, or religion, let's all give each other a chance. Changing our view of how we see things by being open-minded and not defensive is simple, but not easy. Being resentful of the past changes nothing. Resentment will continue to harden a mind. When we open up, we can make a difference in each others' lives. It is the only lasting ticket to cultural change. America really is the land of opportunity. When we all work together, we can make a positive difference in our own lives and others' lives. The life of others needs to come first. There will be challenges along the way, but let's not lose sight of the end goal.
The ultimate challenge is to change our mindset. No one wants to be around a person with a self-centered attitude or big ego, no matter what color you are. We can't allow a few bad apples to cause us to lose focus on what we all want, and that is equal rights for everyone. There is no upside to having a negative attitude. Society will vastly improve when all people come together, GIVE A DAMN about each other, and learn to cooperate. This is certainly not an overnight or easy process; however, it can be accomplished with the right attitude and mindset. I'm in; because the bottom line is that I -GIVE A DAMN - It's the Ticket to Cultural Change.