What if we all leaned into the people, places, cultures, and experiences that we understood the least? AND, what if we had the permission and space to be able to speak our heart openly so as to better understand, empathize, and most importantly – SEE!

It is within this space, stories of human connection are forged and strengthened. It is under these sets of circumstances when we see past the gender, color, background, religion, creed, belief. When we strip away that which we hold onto so strongly, so tightly, so closely because we need an identity to live, to breathe . . . or so we think.

When I hear of the South Korean female, documentary film maker, turn prisoner in a North Korean camp Live Open, then I know we all can! She spent months listening to her captives speak of their lives, dreams, passions, interests, families, friends, experiences of joy, love, loss, gratitude, conditioning, and identity driven life. Over time, she saw herself in their moments. She related to the things they had in common and could understand how it was they came to their own set of beliefs. When she was finally released, she spoke of finding value in this experience. North Korean women are women – just like her. Growing up, she was told and taught to stigmatize the North. When she let down this wall, and looked into their souls, she saw her own.

Another example was of a South African man who admittedly was a racist due to his upbringing and embedded belief system. As a young adult man, he wanted to get past this conditioning and fear, so he moved into a culture and community, where he was the “only white person for 10 miles”. When he arrived to move in to his new home and began unpacking his car, he was questioned about his motives by a local women. With courage, he spoke his truth about wanting to rid himself of this belief he had heavily carried since he was 10-years-old. Magic happened for both these individuals and not only did magic happen for them, but the transference of this magic was spread to anyone who has since been a part of the experience. This kind of LOVE grows! Not only has this experience of Living Open and Valuing Everything helped the community he is a part of, but every person to read or watch his story since. We see a magical moment and we feel something right and good inside. It is that feeling we should pursue. When we LOVE, we live more fully. That inquisitive, curious, let me figure out why I have this belief, let me challenge it, and see what I learn. Maybe it stays or maybe it goes, but I am going to Live Open to all possibilities along the way and Value Everything that comes in through this “challenge a belief experiment”.

In both these examples, the man and women who shared their story can see themselves in the feelings and choices of the other – a transfer of “I get you. I can see you. I empathize with you. I can begin to understand why you think the way you think.” It is a transfer of acknowledgement. To see that I could have just as easily been you, walked your steps, and been sitting in that chair, right now, on the other side of this prison wall. In the end we are all connected in consciousness through an energy that is so much greater than any one person.

Can we say it’s okay to not know something until we know it? Can we leave room for judgments until the foundation and roots are understood, valued and slowly shown a new way? Can we create a new way?

Let us be the light to a new way. As we begin to conquer our own fears, prejudices, beliefs, identities, we give others permission to do the same.

When we can see people as people and peel away the labels, identities, structure, and expectations; Then we will be free.

When we can Live Open to others for who they are, what they might be able to bring into our life, and what you might be able to contribute to theirs, then we will live in peace.

It is then, we will be able to Value Everything – every person, every experience, every choice, every feeling, thought, and emotion. We will be able to see “it” from both the yin and the yang, regardless of which set of glasses we have on, which side of the border we live on, which faith we were brought up in, which belief we adopted along the way, or which values we live from.

When a majority of us can Live Open and Value Everything, then we have mastered LOVE. From here, our example will be undeniable. We can be the next person telling a story to an audience of how we turned a “bad situation or feeling” into something we an value. One experience at a time, we will change hearts and bring people closer together in understanding and peace.

Be Courageous, Lean in, Live Open, Get To Know, and Find Value in that which scares you the most!

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