“I see you.”
When it comes to power, those three words must be on par with “I love you.”
If you are doing something you shouldn’t, those three words can be quite scary. With any luck, they may even set you on a better path.
But if you are feeling alone, invisible, or taken for granted, those three words can reaffirm your value in the world, convince you that you do exist, that you do count, that you are unique and beautiful. These are the words so many of us – even those of us who may not appear abandoned or lonely – long to hear, whether we are aware of our need or not.
As I think about how the economic upheavals of the past 3 years will reshape our society in the long-term and what recent events will teach us, I come down to 1 major lesson: Interdependence. This financial crisis has demonstrated that the governments, institutions, ideas, and people that populate this planet are intricately connected in ways that we have not previously appreciated and cannot fully predict or easily see. The truth is, we belong to a single body, a single organism. We all thrive or, ultimately, we all die. If we deny this, we die.
If our goal as a species is to thrive as part of a healthy planet, this newly focused lens of interdependence highlights the many challenges that exist at every level of human interaction, from relations between nations down to relations between next door neighbors. In essence, we are being challenged to let go of our Us vs. Them mentality and widen our gaze beyond that of our own narrow experience to include that our neighbor’s–whether that neighbor lives a few feet away or thousands of miles. We are being called to witness the events of the world, how they affect us individually, and how they affect others, as well as to consider the part we play in those events.
At their foundation, the protest movements that have swept around the globe in 2011 have been an answer to this call. Individuals all over the world are stepping forward to shine light on the injustices in their lives and to call for change. They are not all speaking with one voice; they are not all moving in one direction; they are not all pointing to the same problems or proposing the same remedies. They are, however, listening to each other. They are stretching their capacity to view the world from the perspective of others. They are, in essence, learning to see with new eyes.
I don’t have to debate whether this rEvolution is mine or if the protestors in the streets speak for me. I don’t have to take an overnight bus to Wall Street or even leave home. I don’t need to make a sign or chant any slogans. To spark my own rEvolution, I need only truly look at the person next to me and say, “I see you.”