Jonathan and Britt reveal some of their biases, and their associated negative impacts. They discuss the difference between queerphobic people vs queerphobic choices, why none of us want to examine our problematic beliefs or behavior, as well as the family programming and cultural conditioning that influences our belief systems. They also discuss the differences between preferences vs prejudices, and how they play out in queer culture, particularly on dating apps. But most importantly they reveal what we can all do to excavate, own, and shift our biases such that we might build a better world for all of us.
Join us on this wild ride, as we delve into the tough stuff and plumb the depths of our souls. You won’t want to miss it!
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Jonathan[00:00:02] Welcome to "Not Going Quietly," the podcast where we inspire growth, beat down biases and get into all sorts of good trouble with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Britt East.
Britt[00:00:11] No topic is off limits as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.
Jonathan[00:00:19] So get ready to join us for some courageous conversation because not going quietly. Starts right now.
Britt[00:00:30] Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of "Not Going Quietly." This is our podcast for all of the outrage optimists out there and heartbroken healers who are looking to have courageous conversations on all the topics that none of us frankly want to discuss. My name is Britt East. I'm here with my amazing co-host Jonathan Beale.
Jonathan[00:00:54] Hello. It was a great intro.
Britt[00:00:57] I'm really good at this. Jonathan is coming to us from the UK and I am on the other side of the world in sunny Seattle, which is a big lie because it's always raining here. But there you go. Jonathan, what's it like the UK? We always joke that even though we live on opposite sides of the world, we have identical weather patterns. So, you know, it's raining and drizzly and gray in both areas.
Jonathan[00:01:25] In August, it's already off.
Britt[00:01:28] So today we're going to talk about something that neither of us want to discuss, because that's what we're here for. That's why we're doing this show. And the topic for today is owning our own biases. And it's such a tough topic, because not only do none of us want to admit that we have biases, but a lot of us have stayed maybe purposely fuzzy, maybe engaged in some willful ignorance around the terms and definitions. Whether it's preference or prejudice or discrimination or bias or bigotry, because it keeps us where we are, it keeps us safe to not have to think about it. And we're all tired, we're all busy and we have a pandemic going on. I mean, there's any number of reasons and excuses why we might not delve into this work, but it does keep us where we are. And not increasing our understanding of these terms and these concepts and then applying it to our lives, of course, is also not going to help us reorient our culture to one of love, kindness, compassion and equity. Not to mention justice. So I think it's really important that we delve into these and we all have them. So we're not delving into it with any moral judgments about each other or you, the audience or ourselves. But the point is that by observing our own thought patterns, habitual patterns of behavior, we can then do better. We can release some of these negative patterns of love and learn how to lift each other up. One thing that I have noticed in my life and I think is true for most of us is left unattended. These patterns of behavior do not heal themselves in this regard. Time does not heal all wounds. And so it's really important to delve in and think through our own patterns of behavior on this so that we can love each other a little better. Jonathan, what do you think about that? Is any of that crazy or wrong?
Jonathan[00:03:43] No, I think you called that pretty much spot on. One of the things I really want to delve into today is my past around that and from a place of recognizing that we can be conditioned into believing certain things, and be conditioned into seeing the world a particular way by the information that we've got on a regular basis. And that from that place there is capacity to change and to learn and to grow and to, as you said, reorient. So, yeah, no, thank you. I mean, I very rarely have to add anything to anything you say, Britt, you pretty much cover all bases.
Britt[00:04:27] Well, I have to say something really controversial now. OK. And I know it's going to take a lot of people off. I've been thinking about this a long time, and you can tell me if I'm full of beans, but this is where my heart is today, and I'm going to speak through my lived experience, not from the experience of others. Along the lines of what Jonathan was sharing is that I believe there are no homophobic people, there are only homophobic choices. And I think what that nuance allows us to do is to simultaneously hold each other and ourselves more accountable to our choices, our actions or words or behavior, and creates the space for grace, the room for redemption that we all need to actually make sustainable change. So. You know, in a society steeped in straight supremacy, even gay people make homophobic choices from time to time. So of course everybody else does. And that doesn't mean when I make a homophobic choice, I as a queer person, that doesn't make me a homophobe, I just believe that means my choice, my action, my word was homophobic. And so all I have to do then is change that choice. Observe it, recognize the impact. Maybe make amends depending upon the fallout of that choice and then change it. And it just seems so much more straightforward for me. It just seems so much simpler. Rather than labeling an entire complex life as one thing or another, it's just identifying a choice, action, or behavior. And so I just think it becomes easier to change. And so whether it's bias or bigotry or preference or prejudice and discrimination, to me, these are all actions. These are all choices that we make. So we are we as adults with varying degrees of agency, we are responsible for our choices. And I just think that once we claim that power and recognize that it's on us to make the changes, then it liberates us to actually do it. I don't know what you think.
Jonathan[00:06:39] Yeah, I completely agree. And the challenge in there is that people don't want to look at their thoughts. People don't want to see the reasons behind why they think the way they do or behave, the way they do or make the choices that they do. So the challenge there is always going to be, yes, it's on the face of things simple to make different choices and choose different thoughts. But the reality of that is that what you're dealing with is programing. And I'm not saying necessarily that it's nefarious programing, but that we all contain a level of preprogramed behaviors, actions, thoughts, choices, whatever. And it's like rewriting a program from scratch on a computer. Right? Like if you wanted to recreate a program or change or recreate something, but to do a different behavior, you're talking about serious amounts of work and effort to to do that. And it's not really any different to in in the human mind. What's really interesting about today's podcast is that last week I was the optimist.
Britt[00:08:06] I was just thinking this!
Jonathan[00:08:10] And this week I'm the pessimist.
Britt[00:08:11] I was just thinking that!
Jonathan[00:08:18] So that's fun and and one of my beliefs naively or otherwise is that we are all redeemable and we all are kind and want the best for each other. And so I think if we can cut through the programing into heart space and into the love that we know exists in that that may be trapped because of programs, then then yes, what you are, what you are saying is absolutely achievable. Ok back to being the optimist!
Britt[00:08:52] Yeah, exactly. I was just going to say that I feel us drifting back to our natural states. So I'm going to go to pessimist again because you're exactly right. I don't know what the hell I was saying. You are exactly right that none of this happens in a vacuum, and just because it's simple, does not make it easy. And whether you believe in epigenetics or not, none of this is happening in a vacuum. We are swimming in this soup of previous cultural choices written down through the generations, thousands and thousands of generations stacked on top of each other. So this change is very challenging and requires a lot of effort and sweat equity. But I think demystifying the concepts and maybe simplifying the concepts makes it easier for people to take that first step, rather than just giving up out of the gates and saying, Oh, I'm just all this way. I can't help it. I'm just I'm just racist. I'm just, you know, that's just how I am. I'm just homophobic. That's just, you know, she's just like that. She's from a different time, a generation. She's just homophobic. No, they're making homophobic choices. And there might be all sorts of reasons why, but because none of it is happening in a vacuum, because they have the family conditioning and the cultural conditioning and everything that you reference. But they're still on the hook for their choices as an adult.
Jonathan[00:10:16] Yeah, I think the thing that we also can't discount is that most people are looking to protect themselves and their loved ones, and they may falsely or not believe that in behaving the way they are, they are doing exactly that. And and that becomes really difficult to address because when someone really deeply believes that their views and beliefs mean that they are protecting the ones they love, you can have a real hard time convincing them otherwise.
Britt[00:10:52] Especially if they don't know that's what they're doing. It's happening subconsciously and you have to reflective on that. And and that's why this stuff comes so slowly writ large in the aggregate. And we see that we still have some as far as queer people have come the past few decades, you see how many challenges we have, not to mention topics of racism, misogyny and abel ism and other things. So it's it is definitely challenging. And I guess I don't personally feel optimistic about this, which is nobody's flesh. But I do feel like I want to say what I allow myself to be held hostage by hope. Like, I may not feel optimistic because I'm because that's just not the way I am. I'm certainly not naive about it, but I'm clinging to that hope. For me, that hope is a strategy. I don't know how you feel about it, sounds like you feel pretty optimistic that people at their core are kind of in the what to do. Good. I'm not there yet.
Jonathan[00:11:51] Yeah, I do. And and that might be naive and it might be overly optimistic. And I'm okay with that, actually, because because one thing that I'm beginning to see and it's really interesting because someone, someone someone mentioned this the other day and it really lodged itself in my brain. Interestingly enough, talking about my vulnerability series on YouTube and and that there are parts of that that were quite naive and I'm like, Yeah, OK, I get that. And and that's probably a part of me that's never going to go away. And so I'm always going to naively believe that everyone is good at their core, and I'm not going to change that because because I, I can't give that up. Maybe it's a bias that needs to shift or change, but I don't think that I can, because because I can't I can't live in a world where I believe that there are there are people born into this world evil. I can't believe that there are babies born evil or malevolent. I can't believe that.
Britt[00:13:11] Yeah, I don't think that the point of life is to iron out all of our flaws and defects and and fire season, whatever you want to call them. I think it's helpful to recognize them and then you can use you can make the choice which to release and should and which to hold on to. You know, similarly, I don't really want to get rid of my pessimism. I rather like it. And so that's a bias that is I think when recognized and honored can be delightful. I can be, you know, a delightful grump and a comedian. I don't have to be, you know, I don't have to allow that, that orientation to consume my life or all of my behavior. It can just be a delightful spin. And I think the part of part of celebrating our differences is honoring those sides of ourselves that we don't wish to change and to be honest about that with ourselves and each other. And, you know, when confronted by others like Gus Jonathan, you're so friggin optimistic. You know, instead of like, Oh yeah, you're right, I should really change up. Maybe that's when you're like, Yeah, I am.
Jonathan[00:14:43] Yeah, totally. And I think the point there and it was kind of sticking in my mind as you were speaking there, we are interdependent. As a species, we can't exist without each other. We can't. Yeah, you can go and live on a mountain on your own forever and, you know, probably be really miserable. But we're social beings and and it is exactly the combination of different traits and ways of looking at the world that makes life wonderful. And why working together, for instance, on a podcast works really well when you have differing ways of seeing the world because you're not, you're not stuck in an echo chamber. And and that's really the point of this, right? Is challenging echo chambers.
Britt[00:15:38] Jonathan, what is a bias?
Jonathan[00:15:42] Oh, thanks. A bias is. Oh, you caught me off guard there, I'm going to have to edit this portion out. Hang on. That's like surprise brainstorming. Oh my god, no. Hang on. A bias...
Britt[00:16:04] I can go if you want.
Jonathan[00:16:06] If you would, that would be great. My brain, as you answered the question, just emptied out.
Britt[00:16:15] I love it because that's kind of what I want to do with each other. Have these little sneak attacks that keep us off balance, like you're always kind of walking on ice and you'd never know, because otherwise it gets to be kind of rote and stale. Yes. OK, so let me chime in with some definitions and you can edit. Great. So I think of a bias as a predisposed inclination to one thing over another. All things being equal, I'm generally going to lean to this one instead of that one. And that doesn't necessarily imply discrimination, bigotry, prejudice, etc. There is nuances to each of these words. And so a bias is just I'm leaning to one thing or another. I can have a bias to apples instead of oranges and not necessarily be aware of why, as opposed to a prejudice where I'm prejudging something because Jonathan is wearing this kind of a shirt. I think he must be that way. He must be. He must act like that way. I use it. I take some small facet or feature of his personality and blow it all out of proportion and make assumptions about him as a person. That's a prejudice discrimination is when I mindfully choose based on a series of features or attributes, one thing over another consistently. And then a preferences when I need, I fully understand and know about two different things, and I just choose one or the other. I'm not making any assumptions, so let's that was all kind of theoretical. Let's break it down into like real life scenarios that we hear all the time. So a preference might be like, I love the dating Asian guys or I hate dating Asian guys. It's kind of something, you know, and maybe that preference actually drifts into a fetish of ritualized and engaged in over and over and over again. And so I exclude everyone else or include everyone else and exclude that racial group in this example. And so what seems so innocuous at first? I have a preference for Asian guys can quickly become insidious because we do not live in a vacuum because we have all of this sales and marketing pressure to filter out racial minorities Asians. In this example, too, we have all sorts of this legacy of bigotry in the US. People may not know that many Asian Americans were put into concentration camps in World War Two and were rounded up because they were seen as a threat. So that was a prejudice because people were judging based on the color of skin, and they were making all sorts of assumptions about their safety, about their integrity, their loyalty to the US. If I'm on a dating app and I start to filter out racial groups, not only am I limiting my access to love, not only am I harming other people because I'm participating in this vicious cycle. I have drifted from preference to prejudice. I have drifted into the realm of discrimination. And so what I see gay men doing all the time is justifying their own participation and bigotry. In this case, white supremacy. Out of the seemingly innocuous choice on a little app, it can seem so easy, and in this case, these apps make it so simple to filter out. In some cases, people based on its necessity or whatever attribute, know, height or weight or whatever you want to talk about. And then all of a sudden, unwittingly, potentially, I'm participating in white supremacy in this example or bigotry in general. Does that make sense that I get that right?
Jonathan[00:20:27] Yeah, it does. And and just I mean, other than just feeling everything that you were saying, it's it's so easy for these things to turn into turn insidious without us knowing and to cause real harm to people because we forgot to take a step to think about what we were doing. And and I get that as human beings, we. We fall into these traps easily, because maybe we aren't exposed to. To enough of the world to gain real perspective. But you do have a choice about whether or not you intentionally make someone feel less than and. And that's where I'm going is your decision to make something that was originally a preference into something that. Actively discriminates against people and makes them. Less than. It's not OK. And rant over.
Britt[00:21:42] I think, you know, it's it's like you said, it's so easy, if left unattended. These impulses can easily become weaponized. And so what might seem innocuous at first can easily lead us down to this really negative space where we're where we're perpetuating white supremacy or whatever elements of bigotry that it is. And that's why it's so important for all of us to continually take stock to continually think through our actions over the course of the day, our choices, our words, and to ferret out those moments where we could have done better not to shame ourselves because shame is not a change agent, but to recognize and release, to honor, to make amends, to apologize, whatever the moment requires. But at least to rise to the moment rather than just sweeping it under the rug because we're tired because we had a hard day or just because we don't want to think about it. All those things are true for all of us every day. So if we're going to rise above this, there's really no place to hide. There's really no excuse.
Jonathan[00:22:50] No, no, there isn't. And you know, it takes courage. It takes determination. It takes integrity and and doing one bad thing doesn't make you a bad person. Doing multiple bad things doesn't make you a bad person if you are willing to look at what you are doing and address it. And and as you are talking, it's I don't like judging anybody for anything, but there's there's one. There's one area that that I can't help myself. And and that's when I witness unkindness towards other beings. And I have one rule, and that is if you are going to be in my world, you are kind to all. No matter where they come from, what their background is, where they were born. Any attribute you have to be kind.
Britt[00:23:49] You know, there's really no greater wisdom than kindness. No. And yet it's something I really struggle with. I mean, kindness is maybe my core sensitivity. Mm hmm. My highest value. But I'm also a fighter. I've been conditioned for combat as a gay person growing up in 1980s Tennessee that's in the southeastern part of the US, which is stereotypically culturally conservative. And in the 1980s felt like oblivion. I knew it was me against the world. And I'm talking about as a matter of life and death, and it just went from there. And so, you know, as a queer person in the corporate world, I currently have a corporate job and I think that I fight every day for my position. And I often inadvertently unconsciously let that get the better of me. So there when you were talking, I was thinking about just yesterday all of the unkind choices that I made. I was going to say in the name of standing tall and taking up space, and that's partially true, but. In all honesty, is also a habitual thought patterns and behavior patterns, habitual responses to certain, you know, stimuli, habitual impulses, lack of impulse control. I'm one of the things that I'm. I find myself struggling with as I continuously interrupt people, especially in the corporate world, I take up a lot of space and I am very forthright and opinionated, and that's in one way I've been rewarded for that and that's part of my role. In another way, it's really easy to get out of balance and enjoy the dopamine hit from that self-righteousness. And it's I think each time I catch myself engaging with that, it's almost invariably seems to come from a place of fear and underneath that uniqueness and weakness, which is maybe what I fear most in the world. I fear most the meekness of others, the human frailties because it makes me feel less safe, as if almost I needed them to protect me, as if I were giving all my power over to somebody in a given moment and saying, Do with me what you will, as opposed to parenting myself as opposed to standing tall and as an adult. And so my point, your less important than my, you know, psychological underpinnings is that we all have these impulses. We all have these, you know, the tip of the iceberg and everything. But below the surface, we all have a lot going on in our interior worlds. There's been a multitude of choices that have brought us here, a multitude of influences. And so. You know, I can't judge people a lot, and they're not proud of it, I'm unkind a lot and I'm definitely not proud of that. And each day is a new opportunity to take stock and practice doing something a little differently.
Jonathan[00:27:34] Yeah, it's like the kind of thing it's by extension, also about being kind to yourself. Right? I think. I understand that it's really easy to get caught up in while I did a bad thing, and so I am unkind or I am. Not being my best self. And and it's unkind to believe that you can be your best self 100 percent of the time. I was kind of reflecting on my little rant and. Decided that. It I don't desire that the people around me are 100 percent kind, 100 percent of the time. I desire that the people around me have the desire to be kind. Both with others and with themselves. Because. Otherwise, we are setting ourselves up to fail.
Britt[00:28:47] So I like that because you just created more space. For human frailty and reality. Yeah. You know, I guess what's underneath. Also, in addition to all that which I love, also what's underneath, what I was saying is that I have a bias towards strength, and I recognize that bias is part of the capitalist sales and marketing culture that I live in is part of being a U.S. citizen and living in this crazy country. So that is one red flag. Know, whenever you're kind of thinking, is this just a preference or is this a bias? Is this, you know, where am I on the spectrum here? That's one big red flag to me is my participating in the industrial mass marketing capitalist complex. And in this case, I am, and I don't even mean both. I mean, inadvertently, I have this natural bias towards strength because I felt so weak, especially as a child, and recognizing that is one step to healing it and healing. It means I can enrich my life today because I, I hopefully I improve my batting average at refraining from filtering out others who might expose who might be courageous enough to expose their tender hearts to me by my through my awareness of my bias. I can hopefully parent myself in the moment, breathe through it, experience that, release it and then connect with them more fully. So my by recognizing that I have a bias to strength, I can explore all sorts of little ways that has played out over the course of my life. Maybe even write a story, maybe write it down so I can gain more clarity and not kind of forget it. Conveniently, forget it over time, and we all tend to do. And I can kind of have this checklist in my brain. You know, in my aging and my strength bias, a strength bias can quickly become a masculinity bias based on our cultural norms in the US, at least around what that word means and how it plays out in gender expression. By recognizing that I have this narrow view of masculinity and this narrow bias towards strength. I can start to broaden the range of my gender expression, both in terms of as a witness and allow others to be more fully who they are, but also in terms of myself. And that creates a wonderful feeling positive feedback loop. The more of myself that I am, the more permission I give others to be all of themselves as well.
Jonathan[00:31:39] Mm hmm. I know that. All of that. What's really interesting, as you were talking, is I was noticing some of my because you use the word masculinity. And I noticed some of my biases there. And one of my biases is that that females are stronger than stronger and better than men. So that's interesting. Because what I'm doing there is I'm. I have decided that men are not worthy. Masculine men are not worthy. Actually, something to really clean up that definition. Overly masculine men are not worthy. Interesting.
Britt[00:32:38] Yes, it is interesting because I notice that we're kind of taking the polls again, like where we were talking about optimism and pessimism in orientations earlier, we're kind of been having those polls on this discussion of our biases for or against what you might call masculinity. And I, because I know you, I know that you're aware of all of the cultural dynamics in play. If that word and the way that we are rewarded for exhibiting masculine traits regardless of her gender orientation, and we are punished for exhibiting feminine traits regardless of her gender orientation. And there's, you know, we could do an entire episode on the history of that and one that exists. But but just by honoring the truth of it, we can start to resist that truth. We can start to resist those forces in our personal lives, which is the first step to starting to combat the force, the systemic forces of misogyny and chauvinism and sexism in our world. Our world is oriented towards straight, white, cis, especially masculine men based on whatever cultural norms are at the time. And we can start to resist those forces by first noticing it in ourselves.
Jonathan[00:34:02] There's a couple of things I want to touch on the first, because I think it's it's an important important thing to talk about before I talk about. The second thing is is the idea of othering the the idea of generalizing a group of people and making them separate from you. And often when making them separate from you, making them the enemy or bad. And. I talk about that because I want to dove into one of my old. Prejudices that I have. I think hopefully, for the most part, entirely let go of probably naive of me to say that, but hopefully. And I so prior to 2016, I lived my life in a small town in the UK and very rarely ever left it. And I'm not sure if you're aware of what happened in 2016, but the world kind of went batshit crazy and and decided to do mass othering to huge groups of people. And and in the lead up to that, so a bit of extra background, I decided in 2015 that I was going to travel the world for a year in 2016. And so prior to that, I was immersed in British culture and British media. And in 20 to 25 years of vitriolic media and news around immigrants and European citizens and other countries. And so I left for traveling, holding the belief that immigrants feel bad, that they were stealing jobs, that they were lazy, that they were. Taking from us and not giving back and that we had no room for them, that they were a drain on resources. And. What I didn't realize in that time was that holding that belief left me no room to see the humans. That. It left me no room to be kind. And. During my travels throughout 2016, I was exposed to numerous cultures across Asia. India, China, huge portions of South Southeast Asia. And so I was exposed to many, many, many cultures who lived very differently to British people and. And it was a moment of it was it wasn't a moment because it happened over the course of six months, six to 10 months. But I was slowly exposed to the realities of colonialism of race. Of poverty, the impacts of war. And. I had to change my prejudices. I had to remove my prejudices because I couldn't live. I was basically in cognitive dissonance for a while, because once I found out the realities of the first and foremost top British colonialism had done to the world and how different that was to what we were taught in school. I couldn't I couldn't I couldn't reconcile what I was seeing versus what I had been told was real. And. And what saddens me the most about that is that I spent 30 years believing something that was a flat out lie. I spent 30 years believing something that was fed to me as truth when it was just a way to isolate and other and cause hate and mistrust and separation. And. And I've lost my train of thought, but I will come back to it, I'm sure. And I remember very, very, very specific moments in that year of of just deep sadness. In fact, there was one event I was in Laos and I was witnessing the effects of the Vietnam War on the US and what we had done and what the US had done. And I just bawled my eyes out for. I was because I couldn't believe what we were doing to other human beings with hearts and wants and desires and families and communities, and how easily. We chose to make them enemies. This is not only that, but choose to destroy them when.
Britt[00:40:30] That is so powerful. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea about that. That's amazing. I had absolutely no idea. I mean, I know that you have traveled a bunch, but that's really courageous of you as a share. And I really appreciate that. And that's really what this podcast is about and sharing our tender hearts in a way that can feel help us feel closer to one another, but to to liberate our consciousness. A couple things I want to tease apart and what you said is firstly, you said that you had to change, which is not the truth, because many people, maybe even most people, don't. And so somehow you chose to change. And maybe, maybe like you said, the cognitive dissonance became too much that you could no longer afford to be who you once were, who you are raised to be a good little white Englishman. And maybe for whatever reason, you had a catharsis and you could no longer afford to be that person. But many people don't make that choice. And so I think it's pretty wonderful and beautiful. Your story, you have the privilege of traveling you with the privilege of being able to leave your home and gain an entirely new perspective and you utilized it. That's what privileges for. Let me take a Segway and talk about privilege because none of us can set down our privileges. They're not trans. They are conferred on us by society privileges an unnerving advantage. I cannot say, OK, I'm tired of all my white privilege. I'm tired of all my male privilege, my able bodied privilege, whatever it is and I'm opting out. My life doesn't work that way. All we can do is use them as leverage to lift up others. And that's what you did. And that's what is so beautiful. You, whether you knew it or not, you leveraged your privilege to leave your home. Game this entirely new perspective, and then you allowed it to saturate your soul and you embody this new way of being that brought you to this place that you inhabit today. And I think that's a really beautiful.
Jonathan[00:42:49] Yeah, it does it's it's really interesting because as you're talking, it's it's like I am, I am clearly happy that I got the opportunity to confront my prejudices and and change them. And and I like I really want to be clear that. I never share these things because because I feel like it's going to make me feel better because it doesn't, it doesn't make me feel better about who I was like, That is someone I will always carry with me. And and and knowing that that person existed fuels me to continue to confront. And I'm so I find I find this really delicate place of being like, I'm not happy about who I was. And yes, I've done the work. I and I'm proud of doing the work, and there's part of me that can't be fully proud because of because I had to go from something to something else that I'm not proud of. That makes sense. Yes.
Britt[00:43:58] I think pride is a weird word. And it's a loaded term. And you know what, I think your past experience allows you to do is open your heart more fully to people who reside in that space today instead of painting them as all one thing or not, anything you know, they are all. They're just bigots. They're just racists. They're just they're deplorables. As Hillary Clinton famously said, that made deplorable choices, but nobody is beyond the power of redemption. And your story is living proof of that. You were redeemed through your choices in whatever other influences and forces were at work inside of you. You experienced that redemption through the work and because you have not chosen to forget or deny who you once were. You can now use that as a source of inspiration to help others achieve similar catharsis and leverage their privilege as well.
Jonathan[00:45:00] Yeah, I think the biggest. What I hadn't realized. At the time is, you know, I had pretty good critical thinking skills, but it wasn't applying them to the areas of my life that where it mattered. And. And I think that's the key thing here is saying, we are we are. Human beings are designed to believe something if it's repeated to us enough times and and that's true of absolutely anything. And so what we get to be critical of is what we are being fed. On a regular basis, and we get to be critical of the information wholesale because. Everyone who's giving you information has an agenda, whether you like it or not. And you much like we do, we have an agenda. We have an agenda to open minds and hearts and have conversations about tough things. That is our agenda here and it is no different to anybody else who is giving you or feeding you information and are just like, be aware of that and where you choose to. To believe without gathering more information.
Britt[00:46:37] Yeah, as they say in the 12 Steps. Take what you like and leave the rest. Yeah. I mean, now there's a lot of stuff out there. I hope you will consider that you might not like. But the reality of human nature is that few of us are ever changed in the course of a debate. Change comes slowly. One heart to another. One friend to another. Through all that, we exhibit, exude and embody. Through all, we require and refuse to tolerate through all of the deal breakers, change happens one person at a time, which is part of why it's so slow. And then when you fold in the cognitive biases that you mentioned, like other ism, like confirmation bias. It's really easy to see why millions of people in the US are resistant to taking a vaccine that's safer than aspirin. It's easy to see why. So many white people in the US hold a variety of prejudices about. All people of color and in it's easy to see how much work it's going to take at the individual and the systemic level to. Even begin to address all that. Yes.
Jonathan[00:48:05] I think in another episode, I would also like to talk about overcoming misogyny. Internalized homophobia, biphobia. Transphobia. And everything else, because. I have I've intentionally and sometimes unintentionally systematically tackled each of those things over the last 10 years or so. And and I want to share those processes because I think it's important. That's it, actually, I just I was going to say more, but no, I just think it's important.
Britt[00:48:46] Yeah, absolutely. You know? I keep coming to the back to the realities of the moment of each moment we're all experiencing and our limited capacities. Maybe you're a parent with a bunch of kids, and maybe some of them are being schooled at home because of the pandemic, or maybe you work several jobs, or maybe you're experiencing an abusive relationship or you haven't experienced as much education as you deserved and you're you're being attuned to these ideas for the very first time. This is lifelong work, and there's there are no finish lines. The forces against us are so entrenched in and are so deeply imbued in our reptilian brains. That it is, I believe, a lifelong practice of continuously ferreting out our own biases and prejudices, modifying, noticing, observing our bigoted behaviors and choices. Apologizing, making amends and doing a little bit better the next day to expect to wake up one day and feel free. And maybe this is just the pessimist in me, but it feels naive and also somehow. Mike, self-sabotage because it won't happen. It almost feels like an excuse not to do the daily heavy lifting. And so part of this is the kindness and empathy of self empathy, of recognizing the load that you carry, the sack of rocks you are already carrying on your back. And then just trying each day to take one rock out of that sack and lighten the load a little bit so you can love a little more deeply experienced life, a little more fully and engage in a little more togetherness.
Jonathan[00:51:08] Yeah, I love that. It struck me that one of the keys to doing that is to lead from a place of a desire to understand and not from a place of wanting to give your opinion. Because if we start a conversation. With our opinion. And we're talking to somebody who has direct experience. We are choosing to be ignorant.
Britt[00:51:49] Yeah, I'm the worst at this, by the way. I mean, I've got so many opinions about everything. And it's like, I'm so tired of dealing with the silliness of the thoughts and opinions that others carry that I, I think I tend to lead with a brick wall and particularly thinking like when you're talking about social media, as long as you know, as I like to call it antisocial media where I just kind of post the truth as I see it, and there's really no need to comment or question, these are it's just these are facts they have been disseminated to you. Consider yourself blessed. I just so, so like I keep saying these forces exist and all of us. And you know, like you said, it all starts with curiosity, empathy, humility so that you can create the requisite space to receive the wisdom of others, even if it's presented in a way that's not as pretty as you had hoped. Even if it's presented in a way that's a little half baked, you have the you've created the space and contained the wisdom to see the truth beneath the flaws and the wrinkles and the words of what somebody might be saying. You can see all that they're not saying here, all that they're not saying. And you know, that's it requires, at least for me, I'm highly sensitive and highly introverted. It requires a lot of centering and grounding. Before I enter the world to experience even moments of that space and clarity and openness because I find I meet the world with a sense of closedness, I mean, I met I meet the world with a close fist even, because I have conditioned myself to be a fighter over the years and struggle to set down my sword and lay down my shield. And so the the idea of being open in front of the world is terrifying. I fear that I lack the capacity. I'm talking on deep levels. I don't necessarily consciously walk around with these thoughts. But then as I examine them on deep levels, I fear that that openness might consume me and I will be annihilated. And so instead I stand tall. I take up space. I interrupt people and dominate conversations. I push people out of the way. It's almost like I think that sports cliche, like the best defense is a good offense kind of a thing.
Jonathan[00:54:59] What's really beautiful about you sharing that is I'm about to the upset, as we do you and I, Britt, we often we're often on the opposite ends of things. And as you were talking, I was thinking I was thinking, yes, like absolutely open up and and and then I was like, OK, so I'm just going to reflect upon the sort of person I am. I'm one of the things you said is you fear that you might be annihilated. And I can tell you, as somebody who now allows myself to question everything who will enter a conversation and leave questioning every belief I have ever held in life. I can tell you that if you don't keep a hold of the groundedness, if you don't say to yourself, yes, you will be annihilated and you will get to a point where you're like, I don't even know who I am anymore because I haven't got a grasp of anything that I stand for because I keep talking to people and they keep showing me new things, and I don't know what to believe anymore. And. And that approach has been absolutely key for me. Rebuilding the way that I see the world and and and creating new lenses with which to see the world through. And the caveat here is to find the middle, like you don't have to close yourself off entirely and you don't have to open yourself up entirely either. Yeah, I it's women were in episode two, and it's not failing to surprise me. The the offices are showing up. I have to be careful the conversations that I have in case in because if I were on a particular track, I'm on a particular course and I have a conversation with somebody. I'll have to reconsider everything because they've just told me something new that I hadn't thought about and. And let me tell you, that's not all that fun.
Britt[00:57:29] Sounds exhausting.
Jonathan[00:57:30] Yeah, it is. It is. It is, and I'm getting better at it, but I'm like, you walking around with your close vest and and ready to fight like I'm I'm walking or I'm the blob, just absorbing everything as I roll through the world.
Britt[00:57:53] Oh oh my god, that's so funny.
Jonathan[00:57:57] Yeah. So the lesson there is like. We get we get to do both. I think we get to do both. We are absolutely allowed to open up, take some things in and then give ourselves time to adjust. Make changes. Decide where we want to go next and then repeat, or we can stand somewhere in the middle and be like, Yeah, OK, is that in alignment with who I want to be? Cool, I'll take that on. No, I don't want that. Like, you get to do those things. And quite clearly, Brittanee are people of extremes.
Britt[00:58:44] Yeah, definitely true. And you know, I was thinking that we've also each leveraged our earned and unearned advantages to do the deep work of introspection, to observe and articulate and share these insights about our selves, our ways of being our habits, our visual thoughts and ways of being in the world. And because of that, we have the opportunity. In a given moment, meaning moment to moment to choose to do something different, to choose to have fun and experiment and try something new, not with the aspiration to punish ourselves or to win a gold star or the approval of anybody else, but because it might increase our access to love. And what I have found is when we play with these ways of being. Not only can it be fun, but it can surprise us. And open doors that lead us to a radically different states. Or, in your case, maybe closed doors to reaffirm what we always knew to be true about ourselves. And so I think. For the listeners, what I hope for them is that they start this process of personal inquiry. Maybe work with a trained professional coach, therapist or whoever that is in your life, not a friend, not a family member, but somebody with training, education experience, some boundaries and most importantly, a lack of an agenda and a lack of a distinct lack of ulterior motives. A neutral third party to help you document a note and tease apart. These parts of you that might be. You know, limiting your life in ways that are unnecessary, frankly. I don't know, Jonathan, would you hope that the listener gets out? What do you think about that?
Jonathan[01:01:16] Yeah, I agree. I think the key is that you have access to safe spaces to explore this stuff. It's challenging things that you believe is not an easy process. At all this week's episode.
Britt[01:01:39] Yeah. And your loved ones may not be happy about it.
Jonathan[01:01:43] Yes. Depending on where you live in the world, you may have a struggle because you're facing community biases and social constructs and all of that kind of stuff. And so the beauty of living in 2021 is that we have remarkable access to communities and people and and ways to connect that are. Fantastical and technological and wonderful and and you get to use those, right, I think we tend to fear that we're never going to meet people who understand us or who want to be available for us on our journey of rewiring our beliefs or perceptions or prejudices, prejudices, biases and everything else. And you get to lean into that and make a choice.
Britt[01:02:51] As we start to wrap up today. Jonathan, I want to ask you a question. What would you tell your younger self with regards to all that you shared?
Jonathan[01:03:11] The kind version would be, "Don't believe everything you're told. You have an opportunity to open your eyes." The unkind version would be, "Stop being such an ignorant prick." Yeah.
Britt[01:03:44] And on that note, that can be our tagline for the podcast. "Stop being such an ignorant prick."
Jonathan[01:03:59] I don't know. Sometimes kindness doesn't always look the same as exactly this.
Britt[01:04:04] No, no. I do want to chime in and say kindness is different than niceness. Kindness is different than politeness. Kindness can involve pain and anguish. So there's all kinds of is a powerful word, a powerful medicine. So, you know, maybe we need that to be on a little T-shirt, stop being such a ignorant prick or not being nice. Put that on the post-it note in the mirror.
Britt[01:04:35] You know, for me, I'm going to answer that question. For myself, it would be, "Don't take it all so seriously." Just allow yourself to have a laugh and a chuckle and a giggle, and not everything has to be a fight. It's only life, after all. As the saying goes, it's yeah, don't, you know, have some fun along yourself, the pleasure of having some fun you don't have to your your job is not to to beat down the world.
Jonathan[01:05:07] Yes. Yes, I agree.
Britt[01:05:13] So, you know, we started this episode by sharing some vulnerable truths about ourselves and what we've experienced. And it occurred to me that kind of goes in line with the name of our podcast, "Not Going Quietly." All of us are going to mean we are all going to experience death at some point. That's the ultimate goal, and we will all likely move. Relationships are constantly shifting. We are all constantly changing. So metaphorically, we are all constantly going. But what we commit to doing on this podcast is to not going quietly and not we are going to resist the forces that would silence us, whether that's about, you know, social justice and activism and diversity, equity, inclusion or wide array of other topics. We're going to ferret out all that. We don't want to say as hosts, as co-hosts, but also in our guests and hopefully speaking on behalf of it with our audiences and asking the questions and raising the topics that you communicate to us that you want to hear about so that we can. You know, like I said, the last episode of a cliche is you're only as sick as your secrets, and we're going to ferret out some of those cultural secrets that we'd rather not discuss. So. So when we say we're not going quietly, that's what we mean. We might be going. We might always be changing, but we're sure as hell not going to go quietly.
Britt[01:06:56] Anything else to add to today's show, Jonathan? It was a really powerful episode, I was really moved by what you shared, and I really hope that the listeners use it as a chance to question their own assumptions and biases, prejudices, look at their own participation, even inadvertent, in systemic bigotry and racism and misogyny, and ableism, and all the other isms that exist in the world, so that so that they too might experience more freedom and create more freedom.
Britt[01:07:39] On that note, I think we will wrap up. And, you know, I hope everybody takes a little time to feel the fullness of each moment that you're given. Question your assumptions, all that you've been told, like Jonathan says, and until next time, we're not going to go quietly.