Intercultural Responsiveness

A Blog By Tom Altepeter

Somewhere

TearsThere are times when we are absolutely nowhere. ~ Sam Seaborn (The West Wing)

When the tears started welling up and falling from the student’s eyes, I knew I had done it. With a raised voice full of power and control, I broke that student to the core. I crushed that smug and disrespectful tone. I knew I could do it, I knew it was in me. How did I do it? Well, smugly with disrespect, of course. So, as quickly as the moment of pride arrived, it dissolved to embarrassment. And, all that was left was me feeling ashamed, sitting next to a young person crying in my office, feeling shamed.

Maybe your moments don’t look exactly or even anything like that, but you have your moments as well. We all do. It may come out in different ways with different people, but it still comes out. And, there’s a reason for that: We make mistakes. It’s who we are.

Too often we’re so focused on what someone else is doing wrong, we fail to recognize our own faults. We get fixated on convincing others that if they would just speak and act the way we want and need them to speak and act, we forget that they’re feeling the same way. We perseverate on perfection, knowing perfection is unattainable. We feel angry and lost and not ourselves. We feel nowhere.

For every story like the one I shared, however, we all have dozens more telling another tale. Smiles and high fives, hugs and tears of joy, triumphs of the human spirit through all forms of adversity. We just don’t think about them as much. We just don’t concern ourselves with those as much as when we fail. It’s all part, though, of this evolving novel we call life. Both the good and the bad. And, there’s a reason we speak less of the good, and it’s a simple but very powerful reason: It’s the norm … the good is the norm … the good is the plot of the story.

You see, we are somewhere.

One Response to “Somewhere”

  • Kathy Mayer says:

    Been there. Done that. Grew from it. And it’s a lesson for the child, too, to know that no one is perfect. One of my favorite words with kids is “re-visit,” as in, “I want to re-visit something with you. . .” and then the amends. Be well. You do your best every day. That counts!

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