IT ALL STARTED WHEN…
In January of 2016, I decided that I was ready to take over my life and make real and informed decisions. I began to work hard and quit all of my excuses. Since January, I was hired by Compass Counseling as a private practice psychotherapist and I became the Clinical Director of True North PTSD Center. My blog launched, Twitter began to run away, and I am now speaking to scores of receptive audiences including the University of Illinois, Parkland College, Chicago School of Professional Psychology, WCIA News, and the Ministry of Justice of the People’s Republic of China. All of these moments are cherished deeply.
Not long ago, I sat back and thought about the entirety of racism, sexism, ableism, and anti-LGBTQ behavior and how it effects survivors and even myself. I realize that, other than being bisexual and non-Christian, I fit every factor of privilege you can imagine. At the time of this writing, November 10, 2016, I am 37 years old which places me in the area of middle aged. I am a white male who is married heterosexual and make enough money to not be considered lower class. I am a large male at 6’4″ and weigh over 200 pounds. I have a graduate degree, am a speaker, and have a management level career. I am a veteran of the United States Air Force and live in a good neighborhood.
SO WHY DO I TELL YOU ALL OF THIS?
None of what I write is to brag, stroke ego, or pass judgment on those who have less than I do. Instead, it is to recognize two very important things.
- I have privilege and it is undeniable
- I can use that same privilege to help those who do not
One of the greatest untapped benefits of privilege is that I can use it to aide others who are disadvantaged. We have to be careful what we say and do, but we with privilege should do what we can to help others. I am not requesting or suggesting anything that is not safe for you or others. We need less violence, not more. Instead, I am suggesting a campaign of bold peace.
WELCOME TO THE ONE WARM SMILE CAMPAIGN
One Warm Smile is a new movement which you can follow on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #OneWarmSmile. One Warm Smile is a simple one step process that ANYONE, privileged or not, can easily and safely do. Starting today, when you see anyone of color, minority, or of any underrepresented or abused class, I ask that you offer a simple smile, and even a small wave. Be genuine about it. Do so in a real and legitimate manner. Keep it simple but keep it consistent even if you end up doing it a hundred times a day.
With a simple smile, you present two massively powerful messages. First, you are giving off a very calming vibe. You’re telling anyone you meet that you are open and accepting and that your first thoughts are of their individual humanity and not their skin color, orientation, or gender. You’re explaining to the world, and their small corner of the world, that you want to accept them for the simple fact that they are human beings and deserve every ounce of respect as you.
Second, by this simple gesture, you are reinforcing that there are good people in the world and that you are prepared to stand up for their right to exist. You are willing to stand up for their right to be respected and given fair opportunity regardless of their status in any minority facet of their life. You are telling them that you desire their safety and security as deserving members of the human race.
One Warm Smile is the simplest and safest way to offer personal and in-the-moment support. One Warm Smile is not asking you to stop any other measures or make this your sole mission. Instead, I am asking you to supplement your daily activities with a quick motion with powerful implications. If you believe such a quick gesture is irrelevant and unhelpful in these times of danger and woe, I ask you to try it…just once and watch the results. Of course one smile is not going to immediately heal the world. What it will do is gently push a little more peace into one life with the hopes that the same peace will be transferred to others.
Together, regardless of who you are, where you come from, or what you represent, we can take humanity into the future, one smile at a time.