By Jose Hernandez-Paris
When we look at history and analyze key individuals who have affected the world in positive ways, we find a common trait — their ability to look at the world through a human-relations lens.
They are often referred to as visionaries.
Leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln understood that humans are interconnected in a way that affects not only the immediate individual or group, but future generations as well.
We hear this value of interconnectedness evoked in their speeches. It is their broader view of the world that empowered them to influence millions of people by elevating the level of human consciousness.
They understood that humans live not only in an environmental ecosystem, but also in a human relations ecosystem.
They recognized that any positive or negative acts towards one group or individual would cause a set of actions that would affect future human events.
The world is still trying to overcome the effects of slavery, genocide, starvation and war.
One needs only to look at today’s headlines to see examples of the destruction of this ecosystem at the local and international level.
Do you think that issues related to undocumented immigrants, conflicts and wars, crime and poverty developed in the last few years?
Do you think that the inequities observed in New Orleans happened over night?
So, if you put on your human-relations lens, what would you see?
Maybe the solution to crime and poverty is to invest in a school system that addresses the need of the whole child rather than in building more jails.
Maybe the issues of inequity found in New Orleans are not solved by revamping a government agency but by providing opportunity to poor Americans.
Maybe the solution to illegal immigration is not to build the world’s largest gated community but to address educational and economic needs, and work hand-in-hand with our neighbors.
History has repeatedly shown us that decisiveness and power without the right vision will fail to provide positive results.
The solutions to complex issues might lie in the perspective from which we view the world.
Take a moment, and put on your human-relations lens.
What do you see?
Jose Hernandez-Paris is diversity specialist and head of the office of diversity for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, N.C., and was a William C. Friday Fellow at the Wildacres Leadership Initiative in Durham, N.C. from 1999 to 2001.