Creating Safe Spaces- April 6, 2021

In order to have the courage to move forward, we all need places where we feel safe to express our fears, angers and frustrations.

Posted
April 9, 2021
Graphic of gears turning and hand holding tools to tune up

Creating Safe Spaces- April 6, 2021

In order to have the courage to move forward, we all need places where we feel safe to express our fears, angers and frustrations.

Posted
April 9, 2021

"Things are never quite as scary when you've got a best friend." - Bill Watterson

JFS Friends – 

For many of us, the news of the day can be unsettling. Recently we have been confronted with disturbing images of anti-Asian attacks and the testimony in the trial for those accused of contributing to the death of George Floyd. When faced with the darker side of human nature we may experience emotions that are difficult and upsetting.

During times like these it becomes even more important to seek out the safety and comfort of trusted friends and colleagues.

The novelist, George Eliot, speaks eloquently about true friendship. He says:

“Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.”

In order to have the courage to move forward, we all need places where we feel safe to express our fears, angers and frustrations. For me this is an important reminder that change happens in many ways – there are times for protest, there are times for education, there are times for passing laws and going to court – there are also times for setting an example and living out our ideals in day to day life and trying to serve as a light to the world as we read in Isaiah (42:6).

When I am feeling disheartened about the possibility of overcoming discrimination I am reminded of an experience I had a number of years ago. An employee came to me one day and said, “I have been meaning to thank you – because of you I have a relationship with my brother.” I quickly started racking my brain to try to remember if we had ever discussed his brother – I had a faint memory of him sharing at some point that he had a brother but I had no memory of us ever discussing their relationship. When I said that I didn’t understand, the employee went on to say that 6 months prior, his brother had come out to him and told him he was gay. My employee went on to say that prior to working with me he had never known anyone that was gay – but because he knew me and respected me – he was able to respond positively to his brother and he was able to accept the news from his brother without it changing his relationship to him.

The work to overcome bias, discrimination and hate is long and all along the journey we will each choose the ways we feel we can participate at a particular time. Whatever ways we choose to engage at any particular moment we can all help by creating safe spaces for our relatives, friends and colleagues to express their feelings without fear of judgment.

The English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge says:

“Friendship is a sheltering tree.”

I hope that in the coming days and months as our society struggles with issues of bias and fear that JFS will be a safe place – like a sheltering tree – where we can all feel safe to be our true selves and count on our colleagues to listen. We may not have the power to change the whole world but we do have the power to choose how we behave towards one another and to serve as an example that others can use as a model.

If you, or someone you know is struggling, please know that there are resources available to help you.

Take care,

Carl

Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

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