I am building a Sufi’s gate in my life, and I am asking all of you to consider doing the same.
The words that we use have so much power. Our words have the power to build people up and to tear people down. Our words have the power to heal and the power to destroy. Our words have the power to change the world for the better or the worse. The power of our words is so much bigger than we will ever know or understand. And, with this enormous power comes enormous responsibility. Each and every day we have a responsibility to use our words to build a world that is filled with love and tolerance and acceptance.
I understand that changing the world seems like a huge task. It seems big. Maybe too big. But, I know that it does not have to be big. I know that it can start small. It starts one word at a time, one day a time. It starts with each and every person carefully selecting the worlds that they use. It starts with the words we teach our children. It starts with the words we use to respond to the words of other people. It starts with Sufi’s Gate.
The principle of Sufi’s gate is simple, before you say anything allow your words to pass through 3 gates:
Gate 1: Is it TRUE?
Gate 2: Is it KIND?
Gate 3: Is it NECESSARY?
I can think of too many times that I hear words that did not pass through these gates. And, because I am human I know that there are times my own words do not pass through these gates. And, in that moment the gates do not seem important. It is just one comment. Just one day. Just one incident. Just one example for our children.
But, that is just not true. Everything we say is seen and heard and observed by all of the people around us. And, when we say things that do not pass through these gates, we give other people permission to do the same. We start to create a world around us that is unfiltered. Unsafe.
I am raising a child with autism spectrum disorder. I lie awake at night worrying about the way that the world will welcome him. I think about the mean things that people might say to him. There is a special part of my heart reserved for this fear and worry. Fear that the world is not gentle enough for him. Worry that I cannot change the world in time.
I have heard with my own ears children say hurtful words to my son. I have seen with my own eyes children push him away. Maybe because he is different. Maybe because he did not understand how they were playing. Maybe because of the words they used. The words he was unable to use. And in that moment, instead of showing patience and tolerance, the children used hurtful words and pushed my son way.
My mommy heart broke.
You see, somewhere along the way they learned that this was ok. Somewhere along the way someone gave them permissions to use hurtful words. Words that were not true or kind or necessary.
I do not live in a glass house. I am the first to admit that my child hits and pushes. He has a sensory processing disorder and sometimes he loses control of his wiggly body. And, even though I know all of the reasons that my son is hitting and pushing; it is still my responsibility to teach him about better ways to communicate his emotions and needs. I teach him to process his wiggles. I teach him to use his words.
In our house we are being watched non-stop by our sons. They hang on every word that we say. They are learning from us how to behave. How to be kind. How to go out into the world and use words. Words that have power. Power for good. And, power for bad.
For this reason, and so many more, I am building a Sufi’s gate in my life. I am taking responsibility for my words. My words will be true. My words will be kind. My words will be necessary. And, maybe one word at a time we can create a safer world for all of our children.
Will you do the same?