‘We Are All Connected to Each Other’

we are all connected
2024 Feature Nominations

Last January, I wrote an article for the Mitchell Hamline Law Review about interconnectedness. My article followed a wellness initiative spearheaded by the Supreme Court justices in our state.

A month after my article was published, COVID arrived, and more than ever we all discovered how interconnected we really are. It was hard to imagine that 15 months later we’d still be dealing with a virus that had transformed into a global pandemic.

Since then, the inequities of our social and financial systems have been further revealed. A huge swathe of our population, who were barely subsisting, teetering on the edge of poverty, lost jobs, healthcare, and housing – many even lost their lives. In the midst of the pandemic, George Floyd was murdered, exposing the ugliness that is the result of our collective othering of each other, resulting in another tragic and senseless death.

The truth is we are all different. And, we all have implicit biases. Biases that include both favorable and unfavorable assessments that directly affect our understanding, actions and decisions on an unconscious level. Our biases unconsciously cause us to assign a value to people, and our unconscious assignment of value too often leads to incivility. But, if our brains are so incredibly powerful that they can cause us to feel pain in limbs that no longer exist, then we can choose to change our ideas or biases if we are willing to put in the effort.

If nothing else, what we have learned as a result of the tragic events of 2020 is that we are all connected to each other. We rise and we fall together. Therefore, we can and we must extend enough grace to our colleagues by first acknowledging our own humanity.

Our service as attorneys in our communities is so important that our wellness and the wellness of our colleagues must be taken seriously. We will never learn to have compassion for each other until we first learn how to love and take care of ourselves. If you are unable to have compassion for yourself, then your mind will be unable to perceive the love, caring and compassion that surrounds you and exists in your world. And what your brain cannot perceive does not exist for you. You cannot give to others what you do not possess. You cannot give to others what you do not first give to yourself.

Geri C. Sjoquist

Geri C. Sjoquist is a disabled Minnesota attorney. She was recently appointed by the Supreme Court to serve as a member of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (LPRB). Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law and civil litigation.

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