I grew up in a college town in midstate Illinois, twin cities called Champaign-Urbana, Home of the Illini from University of Illinois. When I was in high school, we used to love to see the elaborately dressed Indian chief in his vibrant colored feathered head dress and leather costume as he energetically pranced around the football field and basketball court as he performed the traditional "rain dance".
Since I am not really a sports lover, I went to the football games to see the halftime show and to fan watch but nothing beat the Indian Chief rain dance performance. It was always so elaborate. Then there was a group of students of Indian descent who complained that the famous and well-loved Indian Chief's dress and dance was offensive and they protested against the stereotypical image of the Fighting Illini. Of course, we did not see what was wrong with the Indian Chief because we were entertained by the huge show. Although I was sad about even the thought of the Indian being eliminated from the U of I's mascot and logo, I respected the students' feelings and supported them in their fight.
I am deeply saddened by the flat-out disrespect shown for Black Lives Matter, systemic racial and police brutality protests and movements. Even if you don't necessarily agree that these injustices exists or that they are as bad as expressed, it does not mean that it isn't so. You don't have to agree but you can respect others' feelings and try to understand.
In this blogpost, I would like to discuss 3 areas of focus of change using emotional intelligence. These areas SET forth toward social justice and racial harmony.
The 3 areas of focus are:
Self-awareness and regulation, Empathy, and Tolerance
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence, according to Psychology Today magazine, refers to the ability to identify and manage one's own emotions as well as the emotions of others. In 1990, Professors Peter Salovey of Yale University and Jack Mayer of the University of New Hampshire, published an influential paper on how emotions can assist in thinking. Emotional intelligence brings thinking and feeling together so that we can get positive results, according to Six Seconds, a nonprofit organization who promotes the development of emotional intelligence as they call for change in our society. Emotional intelligence research studies have found that people with high emotional intelligence skills are usually more successful in their careers and in relationships.
S- Self-Awareness and Regulation
Self-awareness involves recognizing your own emotions and the effects of those emotions. It also gives us strength in making self improvements and leads to self responsibility.
"What am I feeling?"
Self-regulation involves being able to manage your own emotions, behaviors and attention, and having emotional self-control in socially acceptable ways.
It helps to achieve positive goals; striving to improve or meeting a standard excellence, maintaining good relationships, and learning and maintaining well-being. It is the ability to respond rather than react and having the flexibility in handling change.
Empathy is defined as the sensing of other people's feelings and perspectives and then taking an active interest in their concerns. "What do I truly want as it pertains to my sense of purpose?" It relates to the giving of yourself as you increase your empathy as you respond to others' emotions.
Tolerance goes beyond putting up with someone with whom you disagree. It relates to showing compassion and empathy to other people. "What options do I have?" Having tolerance can create a more compassionate and inclusive world!
Tolerance helps people to live together peacefully, not putting your opinions above those of others, shows strength in that you can deal with different opinions and perspectives, and helps to understand the world together.
Mindtools.com, an on-demand career and management resource, described emotional intelligence as a concept that values others, listens to their wants and needs, and are able to empathize or identify with them on many different levels.
That very description reminds me of the characteristics of Congressman John Lewis (1940-2020) who was laid down to rest this past week as many people memorialized and brought honor to his life in Troy, AL, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, GA. He was a true servant to the people as he fought for social justice in particularly racial equality as a young passionate teenager, as a civil rights activist who marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., as an associate director of various social programs under the Carter administration, as a councilman of the Atlanta City Council, and as Congressman in the U. S. House of Representatives. Congressman John Lewis encourages us to get into "good trouble, necessary trouble to get things done".
Lewis had compassion and empathy for all people as he fought for a more peaceful and inclusive world.
Moving forward, we need to be intentional about making this world a better place for every human as we learn and unlearn some things that can reshape how we perceive other people who are different from us. We don't have to always agree or totally understand but we must respect others and their perspectives. How can you make judgement on someone else's fate when you have not walked in their shoes?
One of the greatest insults is when a person tells you how your actions affect them in a negative and oppressive way; and your response is to ignore them with remarks such as, "Get over it! That was in the past!" or "All lives matter!" Those comments and attitudes represent disrespect and disregard as you show how you de-value others' quality of life and they represent your disregard to inclusion for everyone.
Racism is just one of the social issues in which skills of emotional intelligence can help to fight against the uglies of this world.
Let's exercise optimism (another EI skill) of hope and possibility for real change for equality. Helen Keller quoted, "No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land or opened a new doorway to the human spirit".
Let's all strive to S.E.T. forth to equality!
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