Tomorrow you will become one unique person walking among a group of diverse special women. Each one holding individualized values, morals, ethics, each one raised in a very different home, taught right from wrong, instructed in culturally remarkable daily behaviors, and educated on the way the world is constructed.
One way is not better or worse, one idea or opinion more enlightened than another: they are just different – and wonderfully so.
Please keep this in the front of your mind as you set out on this challenge to walk in the footsteps of women who were also strong, open, and courageous. I hope you included an open mind on your packing list. If you did, you will leave the desert having learned from each other and having expanded your spectrum of tolerance.
From the beginning we have asked you to keep your heart open and lead with compassion. Be patient with yourself when you struggle and with each other. In this year of tolerance, we also ask you to be understanding and accepting of all things and people different from yourself. It will allow you to connect in a profound way. By actively keeping an open mind, you commit to a depth of learning and enter a kaleidoscope of varied views. This does not mean abandoning your own beliefs, but it will serve to shine a light on your own and strengthen them. “Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength,” said the Dalai Lama.
We honor and respect each other when we show tolerance. Try not to prejudge but be curious about each other’s lives, loves, and passions. I know if I spend enough time with someone, I always find something we have in common, some idea or funny life story around which we can laugh or commiserate. This is the gift of spending time with women – we all have at least this experience in common – and you have five days to find the beauty of each other. You will discover a richness of ideas, unique ways of doing what you thought were banal daily activities. By building tolerance, we also build resilience and resistance to intolerance. We become more aware and in tune to our values and cultures. Through this process we heighten our dignity.
WHEN WALKING, I ASK YOU TO:
- Think of or write your personal mission statement including your values and the moral imperatives (actions you cannot tolerate, i.e., lying, cheating, stealing, harming others) This will constitute your individualized spectrum of tolerance.
- Work to become a better listener particularly when you do not agree. Try to recall a conversation with a person of divergent views when you walked away feeling heard and learned something.
- Ask yourself if you are open to learning about new cultures, traditions, philosophies and then remind yourself, “I am open to new ideas and enjoy people with different ideas.)………I believe you are or you would not be involved in the walk. Congratulations!!