Cars have side mirrors because we evolved with eyes only going in one direction. Most of us who drive would agree our mirrors perform an important safety function. Life's side mirrors are a little more difficult to adjust.
Life moves fast. I get overwhelmed by how much there is to know and learn. The gaps in what I know are evident. This doesn't even touch on the things I don't know that I don't know. As an educated and experienced person, I feel the pressure to "know" things or "do it right". After close to 2 decades of social justice activism, I also know how unforgiving I have seen my communities be towards people who make errors. I watch in perplexed astonishment when folks rally to condemn imperfection.
In the world of social media and modern reflex reactions, it is hard to step forward and speak. Here are some guidelines I have in my own work to put myself out there.
1. I promise to listen to people who have different experiences.
2. I promise to grow and change. This means what I say or think today is limited by what I have experienced and know, right now.
3. I don't promise to get it right. Or to agree with people based on generalized political ideology. Or to support you doing things I disagree with even if I agree with your politics.
4. I will risk myself and my world in the service of my principles and values.
5. I will seek the wisdom and guidance of those who have gone before me.
6. I will seek out my own teaching on the lessons we are learning as a culture about race, ability, gender, economic justice, and more, and not ask people to explain their lives to me in addition to the work they are doing to live their lives.
7. I promise to take responsibility for my words and actions. I expect I will sometimes be tired and do what it is easy. I might say something out of reflex. I will make mistakes. I will address them honestly and directly. I will take responsiblity for my impact. I will work to do better.
8. I won't waste my time in arguments with people that are going nowhere. I will leave those battles and conversations to people better equipped and focus myself on the work I can do.