This report is a summary of the main ideas I shared at the last National Conference On Race and Ethnicity in New York City where I was invited to make a presentation on the topic “Beyond Tolerance”. After leading the participants into a discussion about concepts, tactics and goals that are traditionally used in diversity programs and trainings, we evaluated their effectiveness. Then I introduced a new perspective that encourages trainers and educators to embrace Love as the most powerful tool at our disposal to transform ourselves, our communities and the world.
Is it possible to go beyond the idea and practice of tolerance in our trainings? Can we envision an educational model where instead of teaching respect, tolerance and acceptance we empower individuals to embrace unconditional love as the energy that can in fact unites us all?
As our awareness evolves it is important to realize that our strive for tolerance is just the first step towards our common goal in creating a more peaceful and harmonious world. Against the backdrop of hatred and separation, tolerance is indeed the path to pursue. However, once tolerance is achieved as a shared value and practice, we may still encounter that it is not sufficient to bring the necessary healing to our personal and societal wounds.
Tolerance is defined by the Random House dictionary as “a fair and objective attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, or the like differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. The purpose of this presentation is to empower us to go beyond tolerance so that instead of having “a fair and objective attitude” towards others we may actually develop a “loving attitude towards others.”
There are several reasons why this distinction in wording, though subtle in appearance, can greatly enhance our success when approaching diversity training programs:
- Who can truly define what “a fair and objective attitude” is? Everything is subject to interpretation. Therefore, it becomes difficult to claim we have a fair and objective attitude. However if we commit to having a “loving attitude” something important changes. Our attitude is not passive and vague, but active and precise, and therefore easy to determine and feel beyond the subjectivity of our mind.
- Having “a fair and objective attitude,” like the one journalist’s are taught to uphold when covering any event, implies being somehow separated or removed from the subject at hand (other individuals in our case). By contrast, having “a loving attitude” implies to be involved and actively seek the well being of the other. This is the type of attitude that can truly end bigotry and bring us all together as people.
- Having “a fair and objective attitude” appeals to our mind, which is our instrument of judgment, and therefore the place where all bigotry exists in the first place. It requires from us the suppression of any negative thoughts or discriminatory actions towards people that are different than ourselves for the sake of avoiding conflict and other possible social and legal repercussions. It is the “politically correct” attitude. One that is achieved against our natural resistance towards those who we don’t know and therefore subjected to the build up of resentment. On the other hand, having “a loving attitude” appeals to our heart. There are no laws or societal accepted behaviors that are forcing us into that direction. It is not about being rational, logical or practical. It is truly about being a compassionate and forgiving human being and embracing all other human beings as if in fact we are all part of the same family: The human family.
THE POWER OF LOVE
As we continue with the discussion hopefully we can agree that loving others as opposed to just having “a fair and objective attitude” is really a more direct way to eliminate racism, prejudice and discrimination and build a more inclusive society. Love is arguably the most important tool at our disposal to heal our selves and our relationships with others. It is really through love that we can create, not just a more inclusive society, but one in which we can all live peacefully and harmoniously. Then why is it that love is still not fully embraced or emphasized when conducting diversity trainings? The participants will be invited to share their responses. Below are four probable causes that could be brought up by them as well as possible answers that could be shared by the speakers or other participants:
- Cause: Some people may feel that encouraging Love among fellow human beings is something that must be reserved for spiritual or religious gatherings and teachings and therefore, is not appropriate to use in educational settings or diversity trainings outside of that context.
Answer: It is important for all of us to actively seek and share a more expansive concept of love and to view it in a more Universal context as the glue that brings us all together and makes us all One. Sure, loving others is encouraged by all Spiritual and Religious practices, yet nobody has to believe in God to embrace love as the most important tool for personal and social transformation.
- Cause: Others may feel that the word Love has been reduced to the context of romantic love, or eventually the love between people that are very closely connected such as members of the same family. Its use outside of that context could be judged as frivolous or even corny.
Answer: It seems rather irresponsible that we keep limiting the concept of love as a romantic experience or one that can only genuinely exists within members of the same group. That approach only reinforces the immature idea that love is something that happens to us, as opposed to being an energy within that we can all tap into and share with others at our own will.
- Cause: There are those that may feel that by definition it is only possible to love people that we know, and therefore, they won’t consider encouraging others to love people that they barely know.
Answer: It is true that as human beings we naturally love what we know and fear what we don’t know. However, it is also true that should we have the chance of knowing those we don’t know, our fears of them would dissolve and we would then naturally love them as well. Love is within all of us. We could even say that our very essence is pure energy of love. Therefore it is natural and easy for all of us to love. And we are all literally capable of loving everybody so long as we use our awareness to transcend our fear of the unknown and eliminate the prejudice that may reside in our mind by healing our personal wounds and misconceptions.
- Cause: Some people may also feel that love is a highly personal experience. For a lot of traditional trainers and educators, it can be very confronting or challenging to take their diversity program or trainings into that personal path. Some times they feel they lack the necessary skills to deal with the subject since we learn very little about it through our regular education. Others may be afraid of being judged for taking such a personal path in an educational environment where using scientific methodology to approach any subject is always stressed.
Answer: It is important to recognize that part of the resistance of empowering people to love comes from the fact that this is not something we learn in educational institutions nor is it something that can be easily explained. That is because love is not really meant to be explained but rather to be experienced. Through simple exercises it would be easy for people to connect with the love within and let it be the key motivator in our common goal to live peacefully and harmoniously in our very diverse world.
To fully understand the last point above as well as the theoretical perspective being shared in the session there are several insights that will be brought up for consideration:
- Love is meant to be experienced, not taught. In short, we could say that there are three different realms: Instinct: related to our body and our need to survive. Intellect: related to our mind and our need to discern. Intuition: related to our heart and our need to connect. We live in a society that highly emphasizes the value of the Intellect over that of the Instinct and Intuition. We could surely argue that operating from our Intellect is far more evolved than operating from our instinct and definitely, that it is the main quality that differentiates us from animals. (Although it is questionable whether judging and suppressing our instinct instead of seeing it as a natural part of us, is a positive thing in our evolvement) However, it is to our detriment that we are putting down the realm of intuition as it could be considered the most evolved of all three realms. Intuition has traditionally been ignored by science whose focus is to deal with phenomena that can easily be measured. Through our Intellect we acquire knowledge that we process to make rational and logical choices. The intellect makes us intelligent. It is the realm of thoughts and ideas. Through our intuition we surrender to the knowingness that is within and that can be defined as wisdom or consciousness. Intuition makes us aware. It is the realm of emotions and feelings. Judgment resides in our Intellect whereas Love resides in our Intuition. Unfortunately we still live in a society where mind and judgment is king while heart and love are looked down upon. It is no coincidence that women, who tend to be more intuitive than men, happen to be also more discriminated than them. In the corporate world, emotions and feelings are not supposed to be shown for they seem to reveal our weaknesses (although it is interesting to note that the most successful people constantly rely on their “gut feeling” when making decisions). Through our Intellect we learn from the outer world. It is a linear process. Theories are explained and knowledge is accumulated in our mind so that we can change and grow. For instance, the teachings of tolerance can change our thinking. On the other hand, through our intuition we connect with the inner world. It is a non-linear process. Insights are experienced and knowingness is revealed through our heart (the center area in our body where the energy is felt, not the organ) so that we can transform and evolve. For instance, the experience of Love can transform our being. Love is meant to be felt or experienced not taught. The session will include two exercises to better help us experience the healing powers of love.
- All racism, prejudice and discrimination reside in the mind. Our mind is a meaning-making machine whose purpose is to categorize everything and give it a label so that the thinking process can be simplified. That ever-discerning quality of the mind is in itself the cause of our sense of separation and may easily lead to stereotyping, name-calling and other forms of discrimination. The minds function is to judge and discriminate. It is the place of the ego whose survival depends on its ability to differentiate us from others.
- We can only seek non-judgment in the heart. To move beyond judgment so that we can all live peacefully and harmoniously in a society as diverse as ours, we cannot rely on the mind or intellect as a reliable center. We must rely on our heart, our vulnerability, and our feelings. That is the place where through compassion and forgiveness we can heal our wounds and experience our interconnectedness with each other and all living things. That is also the place of awareness where we can choose to love everyone unconditionally. We don’t even need any more to personally know people in order to love them. We can easily feel connected with them in our hearts and see in them the same beauty we see in ourselves. We can even choose to love our so-called enemies. As a matter of fact, it is in our heart where we can discover that the most offensive people are the ones with the greatest need of love (It is important to mention that loving someone in no way implies condoning his or her actions or embracing his or her beliefs).
- Tolerance is rooted in our ability to recognize our differences. Tolerance is clearly rooted in the mind. It encourages us to respect people that are different than ourselves. Its focus is on that which makes us different.
- Love is rooted in our ability to experience our oneness. Love is rooted in the heart center. It is non-judgmental and it is based in the feeling that in essence we -human beings- are all the same. Its focus is on that which makes us all one.
- In the space of love there is not right or wrong, good or evil. Our dualistic and moralistic thinking is the source of all conflict and prejudice in the world. It resides in the mind, not in the heart where those distinctions cannot be contemplated. Through love we can heal all illusion of separation and see the beauty of every human being.
- What is it more important, to be right or to be united? Here is the key question. We all have a choice. If our goal is to be right, we should keep dwelling in the mind as our source of data to help us prove our point whatever that may be. However, if being united is more important to us as individuals and as a society, we all must strive to let go of the righteousness that resides within our minds and ignite the love that resides within our hearts.
- Love starts with oneself. We have heard it before: “love others like you love yourself.” But do we truly love ourselves? Have we forgiven ourselves fully for all our judgments on ourselves and others? Have we truly healed our wounds? Only when we are able to be in that space we will be able to fully experience self-love. And only when we truly love ourselves will we be able to fully love other as well.
- Personal transformation is the way to social transformation. Gandhi says: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Personal transformation starts with self-awareness, emotional discharge and new skills and behavioral options. We all must take responsibility in this process and look within as opposed to blaming institutions or society at large as the source of prejudice and oppression.
To go beyond the culture of tolerance we must consider transcending our differences as a point of reference in our diversity trainings. Healing occurs when we realize that the life force that unites us is deeper than the differences that divide us. This awareness of our profound interconnectedness will help us shift from the concept of respect for that which is different to the consciousness of compassionate and unconditional love for all human beings. As Carl Jung said, “In the history of the collective as in the history of the individual, everything depends on the development of consciousness.”
JESUS NEBOT’S BIOGRAPHY
Jesus Nebot is a renowned filmmaker, social entrepreneur and transformational speaker and trainer who has lectured in over 30 American states and 10 additional countries around the world for business, educational, cultural, non-profit and civic organizations.
Jesus’ mission is to inspire personal and social healing and transformation by helping people connect with to hearts and manifest their highest vision in life.
As an entrepreneur, Jesús went from being homeless to financially free in just 5 years by building a real estate company that serves the housing needs of low income people across the United States. He is also the former president of Agape Toastmasters, the founder of the Oneness Institute and a founding archangel of Humanity Unites Brilliance.
As a filmmaker, Jesus is the winner of 26 international awards for his work as writer, director, producer and star of several inspirational films that have been viewed by millions of people in over 80 countries.
In addition, Jesus is also the producer and host of TIME WARNERS’ THE LOVE SHOW, in which he invites expert guests to explore the frontiers of Consciousness and the healing power of Love in our lives, in our communities and in the world.
Building on these experiences, Jesús developed transformational leadership programs in English and in Spanish to help purpose-driven individuals and organizations unlock their wisdom and emerge as visionary leaders and co-creators of a more prosperous, peaceful and sustainable world.
Jesus is a Certified Member of the National Speakers Association, was named one of “The Top 100 Latinos on the Move” by Latino Impact Magazine and has received numerous speaking and filmmaking accolades, including the 2009 National Speakers Association CONNIE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE ON THE SPEAKING PLATFORM and the GOLDEN STAR HALO AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY.