Gosh…there’s really no way to do this justice, so I’ll apologize right up front for how convoluted this is probably going to end up (yay for rough drafts and editing??).
During a lengthy conversation with my cousin/BFF/little “sister,” I was gifted a phenomenal paradigm shift that still has me reeling. I encouraged her to write the article (that would likely do this idea the justice it deserves), but for now, I’m going to jot it down so that I can remember it while it’s fresh. (See, it’s alReaDy meandering.)
In short, what if the way to heal the world’s pain is to dismantle EVERY hierarchal structure, starting with the ones we have in our families — parent to child, older sibling to younger, etc.
I come in to most of my conversations with a certain amount of expectation (try as I might not to), I “know” the other person, I’ve witnessed their reactions to things and I’ve told my own story about why they’ve reacted the way they have (good or bad) — they’re mean, they’re an asshole, I upset them — without stopping to consider that maybe there were outside influences last time — they had a bad day, they hadn’t eaten…whatever. I have rarely started a conversation asking for a temperature check — “How are you feeling? Have you eaten? How’s your day going?”
In short, I don’t always SEE them, right now, in THIS moment, devoid of the past. And, always within the established hierarchal structures — you are my SON, that means our conversations (and the resulting dynamic) look like X, I am your daughter, that means our conversations (and the resulting dynamic) looks like Y, on and on through friendships, partnerships, etc.
What if I saw and treated everyone as a peer — no hierarchy regardless of intelligence, age, or relationship to me?
(If we take it one step further, what if that happened at a political level??)
I’ve learned a tremendous amount from the boys when they’ve been willing to give me feedback, most especially in the moment when they don’t appreciate the way they’re being treated (they’ve often expressed dismay and discouragement at the way adults treat them just because they’re “kids”). Their feedback doesn’t always change my action, but it does allow me the opportunity to see how I’m showing up in the conversation. Now, looking backward with these new paradigm-shifting goggles, I’m able to see the moments when I’ve used the established hierarchal structure as a crutch, where dismantling it would have served us all better — most especially in growing and expanding the way we communicate and connect.
I’ve undoubtedly made a mess of explaining this and I’ll likely have more to say on it as I use it, notice it, and sit with it for a while, but I’m intrigued.