“When a child of another culture comes to me,” writes Holly Elissa Bruno in the book, Art of Leadership: Engaging Families in Early Childhood Organizations, “I naturally respond according to my own assumptions. For example, I expect girls and boys to have a right to the same opportunities…
Mr. Khan’s heritage allows more rights to males than females. He asks if I will treat [his son] Amin as a prince, while teaching [his daughter] Roshan obedience. My gut reacts righteously: ‘Never!’ I have no room for wonderment, only judgment. What if instead, I set aside for the moment my assumptions so that I can ASK and LISTEN to Amin and Roshan’s dad? Can I open myself to hear about the traditions, practices, and hopes of this man who differs form me? If I listen in wonderment, might I learn how this father loves his children? That he wants the best for them?”
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In my righteous indignation I think what the heck, there is no way I will ever abide by such an absolutely barbaric time. I suit up with my armor and begin to tactically plan my remarks. That is the scene playing in my head. Outwardly, I am hoping there is no evidence of one of my internal struggles.
The other struggle going on inside is the one in which I truly want to build a strong partnership with this man and his family. When my education and experience has shown me and taught me that for the family and children in my care to thrive to their fullest potential it is within our relationship of respect and trust.
I began to remember a Indian proverb,
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:
A fight is going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too.
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, Which wolf will win?
The old Cherokee simply replied, The one you feed.
This is not to say that what I have been taught in my life is evil. It served a purpose and comes from an ancestral history. This is not to say that what this father was taught in his life was evil. It served a purpose and comes from an ancestral history.
Together we create a new path, a new history, one in which understanding an acceptance can provide space and time for all of us to be winners. There doesn't have to be all right and all wrong, there can be a middle ground in which we can walk together in support of each others experience and provide a space for new experiences.