Fence-sitting

I am proud to be a fence-sitter.

When I was a little girl, I loved to climb the fence and peer into the neighbours back yard. It was a whole different world. The backyard was covered in concrete, except for the veggie patch where strange and unusual things were growing. There was strange aromas coming from the kitchen that I had never smelt before and from the huge brick garage really weird smells. I could hear the voices, but I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. This was the beginning of my fence-sitting life.

So many will tell you to get off the fence. Make a decision, choose a side. But I don’t. Why should I choose one side over the other. I can’t do that. I see you both. I see both sides to the story by sitting on the fence.

If there is a fence in the way, I cannot see you, I cannot see your story, I cannot feel your delight and your pain. I have no frame of reference. I am blind to what you see.

When I can see over the fence, I can see you. I can see who you are, what is important to you. I can feel what you are feeling. I can see what you can see.

From my view point on the fence, I can also see the other person. I can see their story, their delight and pain. I can understand who they are too. What is important to them. Just as much as I can see you and what is important to you.

A fence is just the way we block ourselves from seeing the other side, from enjoying the view, from opening up to a new way, a new experience. It stops us from understanding and feeling compassion. It stops us from walking in their shoes.

Who is on the other side of your fence? Can you see them? Can you feel them? Climb up and take a look. Sit on the fence for a while and see the view of someone else’s story, someone else’s life.

I discovered the joy of fence-sitting as a little girl. It brought me to a different world. I was just interested in playing with the children I could hear on the other side. It didn’t matter that they couldn’t speak English, dressed differently than me or ate different food than me. For we were little girls and we saw past all of that and opened up a new world for each other.

Take a look over the fence. It might look strange at first, however one day you will look back and see those strange and wonderful foods appearing everyday on your own plate.

The Book the Shaped My Life

When I was a little girl, my father wrote a book. Not an ordinary book, it was never published, but it was one that has really profoundly shaped who I am.

This little book was designed as a “flip chart book.” Which is the Power Point of the 60’s. It was written for him to use in church school using carefully chosen cut and paste, old school, with real scissors and real paste, to tell the story.

The story of a little girl. It talked about all the things little girls loved to do. “I love to go to parties. I love to play dress ups. I love to sing.” And on it went. Every few pages it asked a question, the same question “But why do some people hate me?” As a little girl at the time, these pictures spoke to me. These were the same things that I, my sister and brothers, loved to do. This little girl was just like me. At the end of the story came the reveal. “Why do some people hate me?” The image is etched into my memory of a little Aboriginal girl.

Just like me. A message that has often echoed through my life as I realised that opposites are the same. Someone who appears to be the complete opposite to me really is the same.

We all need that sense of belonging; we all need freedom to live our own lives. WE all want to contribute to the world and feel that something we have done has been worthwhile. We all need love.

When I hear of events such as have unfolded in the US this week of a black man dying, literally in front of the world. Being abused and mistreated essentially just because he was black, my heart bleeds.

I have come to recognise that it is not up to those who are oppressed, abused or victimized to stand up for their rights. It is up to us who are not to change the way things are. We can’t just stand behind them and say this is terrible, how can people treat them this way. Standing with them in their fight can be helpful and helps us to feel what they are feeling. To take time to walk in their shoes, to understand what it is they are going through, to feel it, really feel what it would be like.

Yet, it still isn’t enough. We need to stand in front of them and shout out to the world, “We will not accept this.” We need to stand in front of them and protect them and allow them to feel safe in our community. We need to give them a sense that we accept them for who they are and that they belong in our communities. It is only then that we can heal the wounds and start to work together to create vibrant communities that we all want to live in.

The story of prejudice is not mine. I have never been the victim. But just because it is not my story, doesn’t mean it is not my fight.

This is why I have become passionate about chocolate and coffee breaks. As it is when we sit together in a spirit of love and acceptance, we start to break down the barriers that divide us.

Take time to think about this and how it is that you feel called to make a difference. Because, you can make a difference. Just reaching out to one person will change the world. If we all do that, we have a world that we want to live in.

Share a chocolate, have a cuppa, enjoy a conversation and change the world.

Reflections

As I glance in the mirror, what do I see? Is that who I am? What does the world see? This is all. The who I am is not this image that is seen by human eye. Yet that is the me that people think I am. From this image, they make conclusions, they decide who I might be. They think they know me. It is easy for them to assume how my life is, what I might do, how I might think. They might think I have a certain amount of money and do certain things. But this is not who I am.

The who I am is hidden from view of the human eye. The me that I am isn’t dependent on this outer view. It is only when one is prepared to go deeper, to stop and listen, to explore, to be present with me that they start to get a feeling of who I might be.

The who I am, is just like you. With dreams and hopes, with fears and uncertainties.

The who I am desires to be loved, to be held, to be a part of community.

The who I am wants to serve, wants to somehow feel that she has made a difference in the world.

You see, I am just like you. No matter what you see or what you think I might be, I am just like you. No matter where I live, or how I live, I am just like you.

When we look at others, remember that you want to be seen beyond the outer layer. We want to be seen for who we really are. So, look beyond the surface of the person before you and see that truth of who they are. They may be just like you.