Becoming True: Lessons Learned from Grand Daddy, Shakespeare & the Questionable Comments of a Diversity Coordinator
One of the memories that my family holds most dear of my Grand Daddy is the wisdom that he shared often through one of Shakespeare’s quotes: "To thine own self be true. And let this follow as the night unto the day."[i] Until hearing some questionable comments recently while in conversation with a Diversity coordinator, I had one, straightforward read of this saying. I now hold a deeper appreciation that I’d like to share with you.
All these years I had interpreted my grandfather’s saying to promote discovering oneself and following Heart. My own learning of Self and following my intuitive lead is a work-in-progress. I believe the process to be one of spiritual growth that will endure throughout my human life.
And then, I met a Diversity coordinator who self-identifies as a “white woman” who “live[s] in a bubble”. She disclosed that she is surprised when she’s told—and doesn't see how— race-based prejudice persists in our U.S. society. As a colleague in the field, a fellow woman of privilege and an African American who experiences what eludes her associate, I was intrigued that she had been matched with her role. But, here she was. And there I was, listening with alarm to learn more.
What I learned in reflection was a more nuanced interpretation of the above quote. Being true to ourselves is not to remain comfortable with who we are in the present moment of our lives. We are—and continue to choose—the values and beliefs that we learned through the cultures to which we belong[ii]. To hold these ideals as a reflection of our selves, we must necessarily become more than who we are today.
In speaking with this Diversity coordinator, I discovered only a small part of what she already knows to be true about herself. She believes in:
Being true to thine own self ain’t about acting in accordance with our current selves. It’s about acting in alignment with our higher selves. To what Self are you becoming true?
Dedicated to Mr. Leon Willis Watts, II also known as my dear Grand Daddy (Jul. 3, 1925- Feb. 29, 2016).
[i] The precise phrase in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet reads, “This above all: To thine own self be true,/ And it must follow, as the night the day,/ Thou canst not be false to any man.” (1.3.78-80).
[ii] As culture is a learned and shared set of values, beliefs, assumptions and behaviors shared by a group of people, we all belong to multiple cultures. Nation, region, ethnicity, race, generation, gender, dis/ability, religion or faith tradition are just some examples of culture groups.
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