Afraid of otherness?

I listened to Parker Palmer giving this commencement address to the graduating class at Naropa University, and several times I got goose bumps and shivers. For me, those have become telltale signs that there’s something important and/or very true being shared.


The six suggestions Parker provides on living a life worth exploring are simple. And powerful. So powerful I followed my urge to split this recommendation into six consecutive blog posts. You can read my thoughts on the first and second suggestion here.

BoldomaticPost_As-you-welcome-whatever-you-fThe third suggestion is: As you welcome whatever you find alien within yourself, extend that same welcome to whatever you find alien in the outer world.

There is no other, that is not also a part of you.

I’ll write that again: There is no other, that is not also a part of you.

So be hospitable, curious and meet the world with the same sense of adventurous journey of discovery that you hopefully have embarked upon within yourself. There is no need to be afraid of otherness. Or rather, you do not need to act upon the fear. You can see it, witness it, and let it pass through. Because you are meeting yourself, when you come across someone, something, which you do not recognize, that feels new and different and unknown to you. That is how to grow. That is how to benefit the world. And that is where my hope for the future lies. Just imagine what will be made possible when we no longer fear otherness. I can see it in my minds eye. Can you?

Embracing otherness

I remember watching this as I sat alone in a lunch room of a big industrial company. I remeber not being able to stop my tears from falling. It’s such a powerful story told by Thandie Newton on TED, and that’s why I would like to show it to you:

Thandie says:

The self that I attempted to take out into the world was rejected over and over again and my panic at not having a self that fit…

Can you feel it? Can you feel her panic, pain and confusion? How many children don’t go through this in some form? How many adults still experience anxiety because they feel they don’t fit in?

We come into being when we start to see otherness as something separate from ourselves – and yet, the most important take on this isn’t that I define myself in comparison to you.

Rather it’s the fact that what I perceive to be reality isn’t reality but rather my image of reality. My thoughts and feelings create the world as I perceive it. What happens to otherness and self, when you anchor yourself in this insight?