From the desk of Dr. Melodye Hilton
Years ago, I was grieving over being taken advantage of over and over again. I hurt because I was surrounded by takers who were self-absorbed in their own needs and never genuinely caring for me. I would trust their words of loyalty, commitment, and partnership until I was slapped in the face with sudden, heartbreaking betrayals. The end goal for their validating and honoring words was to take what they could get from me and to manipulate me for their gain. When I had served their purpose, I was dropped like a hot potato. Even though I don’t believe most of these individuals lived with any conscious malicious intent or even an initial awareness of their manipulation, this reality was still a difficult and painful pill to swallow.
Devaluing and dehumanizing words and actions have built a cultural edifice one brick at a time. It is now in our power to dismantle that structure of injustice one validating blow at a time. The journey of everyday justice begins internally before it is lived externally. If words create thoughts, which are manifested in actions, we can rewrite our internal narrative as we confront every thought that would lessen the value of a human being in any way. Once we align our beliefs with justice—power used for good—it will become our automatic pattern of thought. This new way of thinking will be revealed by all that we do and with everyone that we meet. What can this look like?
Secondhand offense is like a cultural virus. It permeates our world and infects anyone who allows it to have access to his or her heart and mind. It spreads to everyone unless their emotional immune system is resistant through kindness and resilient through gathering objective understanding. My definition of offense is: observed or perceived attitude, belief, or action that insults, displeases, or angers the recipient or target. The secondhand element reveals that the offense is borrowed from another. In other words, secondhand offense is invited in when we grant access to someone else’s offense to affect our thoughts and emotions…
The human experience is filled with contradiction. The highs of great accomplishments as well as the lows of shattered dreams. The validation felt when celebrated just for being you as well as the hurtful times when you feel like you could never measure up. The knowledge of belonging when held safe and secure as well as the emotional suffering of rejection and abandonment. The protection felt when authority fought for you and the confusion where acts of injustice came from those who should have been protectors. These dichotomies cause our life’s story to be immersed in both good and evil. We all suffer from chapters that are shamefully hidden from public view while other portions are shouted from the rooftops (or highlighted on social media).
Every human being is born with innate core needs to be loved, valued, and to experience healthy, trusted relationship. However, because we do not live in a perfect world and this often is not our felt reality, as children we develop beliefs and behaviors in an attempt to meet these unmet core needs. We will do whatever it takes for us to feel loved, valued, and accepted. In this process we become conscious of the expectation to perform in a prescribed way in order to please those within our circles of relationship. Our goal is to meet our needs, but it often results in a crisis of identity as we begin to believe the self-devaluing lie that we are not good enough.
A black male millennial, Justin Murrell, interviews Dr. Melodye Hilton, a white female baby boomer about her core leadership principles. It’s not hard to enjoy generational, racial, and gender partnership when we focus on a healthy exchange of life and validation.
When they are authentic, complements are a beautiful thing. However, if the words have no worth attached, they are much like water running off a duck’s back. I am honored when someone tells me that I’ve done a good job, when they celebrate my accomplishments, or when they show a desire to involve me in their endeavors. All these things are special. However, without also knowing that someone values me for who I am and not solely what I do, I can receive their words as kind, but I still guard my heart until I know that their thoughts, intentions, and motives are for our mutual good, and not only their own.
Politics and parties aside, I write today from my heart, my experience, and my passion for true justice. I am a proud citizen of a country who prides itself on being a land of freedom and a home for the brave. With this in mind, I recognize that the legal rights of our nation’s citizenry are so often toted—even shouted—perhaps at the very expense of those doing the shouting. The fact is that just because it is one’s right does not necessarily mean that these rights are appropriate or beneficial for the participant or for the cause they claim to defend.
Strategic reformers of culture are now actively integrated into our society. The question is, will you be one of them? I invite you to join a higher model of living and leading. These are the brave leaders who will redefine, for themselves and for future generations, power used for good that will establish and influence a new way—a way of Higher Living Leadership.
Prejudice was not interwoven into our culture in one day and healing will take time and effort. Our leadership influence positions us in all the realms of society and culture that are immersed in hidden pain. Can you imagine the positive influence achieved if we lived the mandate to be a solution?
The foundation of prejudice is simply pre-judgment or assumption about someone or something without facts or evidence. Prejudice moves beyond race incorporating gender, religion, or generational stereotypes. It involves emotionally-charged biased opinions, ideologies, or worldviews that ultimately divide and engender intolerance—and this is inherently wrong!
Can the baby boomers and millennials partner successfully? In our contemporary world, we are presented with a choice to embrace one another or alienate ourselves because of different paradigms. We can choose to be critical of what we do not understand and distance ourselves or we can celebrate our opportunity to effectively build together.