Magic Words Can Change The World

My wife says I talk too much.

She might be right. (She’s a smart lady, after all.) I’m not disagreeing with her. But…

What if talking could save the world?

I am very proud to work for a company which is visible and vocal in its support for all things related to diversity and inclusion. The Hartford has been recognized for its ethics, LGBTQ equality, embrace of miltary veterans, hiring of people with disabilities, gender equality, and green sustainability. (That is all almost too embarrassing to write. But it’s all true.)

Last week, my company celebrated its third annual True Colors event. Inspired by my stories of my youngest son, The Goon, and his adventures as a boy who does not always follow the expected path, the True Colors event has grown into a company-wide event. Folks wear the footwear that shows their own True Colors and share the pictures on our intranet. It was amazing to see folks participating this year. It was a real embrace of the diversity and inclusion which I believe make us a stronger team. (As I wrote at work this week, it’s not just a LGBTQ thing. It’s an EVERYONE thing.)

The Goon, Dad, and The Noodle Show Our True Colors

I am proud to be a part of this team. I am proud to help inspire such a beautiful event. But it does get me thinking. What about the folks who may not believe in this idea of diversity and inclusion? What about people who may disagree but feel that they can’t express a contrary perspective for fear of being labelled a villain? How do we build connections across our differences?

When I speak to people about diversity and inclusion I usually end up in a group with a similar world-view. That’s great – I am happy to be an advocate for those who need the embrace of diversity and inclusive behaviors to be part of our social fabric. But only talking to people who share my perspective is really just an echo chamber. Nothing changes.

Over the last week, I’ve seen a few pieces of entertainment that seem to fit pretty well together. Please watch this…

Worlds Apart

Then read this…

You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you.

I wear my pink sneakers. A lot. As much as the weather in Syracuse will allow. Nothing makes me happier than for someone to comment on my sneakers. It’s an opportunity for a conversation. And that, I’ve realized, is exactly how I can do my own little part to make the world a better place.

I want to talk to people who DON’T see the world the way I do. I want to talk to the people who aren’t my target demographic. This is my pledge: I promise to embrace discussion with a willingness to listen to others’ perspectives. I listen to you, you listen to me. Maybe we find a connection, find common ground, and make the world a little bit better.

I recognize that this process of seeking out opposing views can make people feel uncomfortable. The first time I heard the concept of “privilege” mentioned I bristled up in reaction. (Remember The Oatmeal’s reference to the amygdala? That would explain the visceral reaction.) But – I am more than my unconscious reactions. And I want to make the world a better place.

You’d be hard pressed to find many problems in the world that can’t be solved by talking and building connections between people. So the next time you see me walking around in these pink kicks, say hi. (Bonus points if you buy me a beer.) Tell me how we disagree. Talk to me.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll save the world together.


Filed under Essays

7 responses to “Magic Words Can Change The World

  1. Sherry Edwards

    Hello Mr. Pink Kicks. Thanks for your thoughts. You are brave. I wish you well in your quest to talk with people who may have a different life-view. I am of like mind, but I will also try to follow your example and talk with those who may not be on the same page as we are. And I wish you well on your journey.

  2. Jessica

    I have enjoyed your blogs on iConnect and here and want to let you know that you are an inspiration and I appreciate you and your goals of inclusion and diversity

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