Not surprisingly, strong reactions to something another person says or does make it harder to practice interpersonal curiosity. I went the Vienna sister march of Women’s March on Washington yesterday and had a good experience, which was somewhat marred when I got home and found vitriolic attacks of the march on Facebook. It’s not what you’re probably thinking. It was that one of the speakers, Amina Bagahajati, who is Muslim, was said to have been uninvited by the organizers. I was furious at the people posting, who I felt were simply passing along rumors, and being furious has the opposite effect of interpersonal curiosity. I experience it as a complete closing down. I chose my side–I could not imagine that the organizers had uninvited the speaker–and settled down firmly in their camp. Oops.
What would interpersonal curiosity look like in that case? A suspension of judgment and an attempt to find out what the true story was and why a number of people believed such a thing about the organizers. I hear many of you saying, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re only human.” Of course. But in my opinion, this is an aspect of humanity that leads to conflict and, ultimately, war and as such needs to be mastered. This is one reason I’m working so hard to replace that judging, closing down, rejecting reaction with a more curious response.
In the meantime, there has been some clarification. The organizers of the march did not uninvite the speaker and wrote of their regret that she did not speak. Apparently, some of the partner organizations were not comfortable having a speaker wearing a headscarf and uninvited her unbeknownst to the original organizers. Now I’m going to pass by another opportunity to practice interpersonal curiosity and I am going to allow myself to say I find it odd that organizations that profess to celebrate diversity and want to fight for social justice can’t tolerate a headscarf a woman who clearly practices self-determination chooses to wear.
This is the last day of the 10-day interpersonal curiosity challenge. I think it helped raise my awareness for when I do and don’t practice it, but 10 days obviously isn’t long enough to overcome my natural tendency to judge. Ah, well. Onward.