Perhaps 20 years ago I stayed home sick from work. While channel surfing I ran across the Oprah Winfrey Show and watched her speak with a family of white supremacists. Of course, there was a lot of anger, yelling and hateful energy. I remember thinking, “Those kids never had a chance. They will never change. The imprinting of hatred is too strong to overcome.” I moved on to another show and forgot about it completely. A year later I got sick again. Same scenario – on the couch, a little bored, channel surfing… and once again I came across Oprah who said that she was bringing back a guest from the year before to discuss how the experience altered her life.
This piqued my interest. I had only watched the show that one time, and my immediate thought was “Wouldn’t it be interesting to see one of the people I saw last time?” Sure enough, it was a teenage daughter of the family who had spewed so much hatred.
She was completely changed. Her energy was soft, kind and compassionate. Her demeanor was authentic and even her clothing was a completely different style. Oprah showed a clip from the previous year and the contrast was so apparent that it brought tears to my eyes.
I had judged and dismissed this girl a year earlier thinking there was no hope for her. She simply explained, “I never knew that there was a different way to think.” The opposition her family experienced from the crowd in the original show planted the seed of awakening. She had the courage to stand alone in her family and transformed hatred into love. She was an amazing teacher.
I often think of the delightful “coincidence” of those two days of illness and how everything works to our highest good… all the time. I learned that anyone can shift at anytime from any interaction. It took a year for this particular lesson to be made clear to me and of course, I didn’t even know that I was in the midst of a lesson under after it was completed.
This is the beauty of what life offers you… that teachers can be found in the unlikeliest of places, that even a head cold can have purpose and meaning far beyond what we perceive and that hatred and violence can be transformed in an instant.