A friend came to me for advice. Understandably upset, she kept pressing; hoping I’d know some sort of legal action to take against someone. She forgot I’m not a litigious person. Since the offending person was described as “unreasonable” and there was no hope of talking it out, my advice was to remain the strong silent type, the peaceful bigger person, and do absolutely nothing. ~ A choose-your-battles moment where the risk of investment was greater than the likely return. ~ Then I hopped up on my soapbox and passionately reminded her that many of us think there should be a law and consequence preventing people from making every possible stupid or hurtful decision. But there is no way to dictate or require all people from all walks of life, from all cultural & religious backgrounds to hold to a basic standard of human decency. The world is too varied and wide. In fact, what I consider “stupid” seems perfectly legitimate to someone else. This idea of human decency may have been more prevalent in years past, but I assure you it was never universal.
Individuals have different perspectives because we’ve lived different experiences which shape our opinions and knowledge. We all feel we are justified or that we are in the right without considering the other side. So much is either black or white, right or wrong; and no one bends. So much of our unique perspective is shaped by how and where we live and how/where we were raised. Influences from religion, politics, education, wealth, violence… But even within a subculture or community, every individual has their own perspective although they may hold a similar view as a broader group. (Look at Christianity. Or Islam. Or Republicans. Or democrats. Just because two of anything are labeled the same does not mean they are clones.) It is such a shame that along with all this beautiful perspective in the world comes such stubbornness.
Take me and my best friend of 20 years… Two peas in a pod. We are both Catholic. We are both mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. We grew up in the same city and even attended the same schools. We share several similar interests and hobbies. There are countless drunken stories, even more laughs, several funerals, six babies and eight pregnancies between us. Yet even with all these similarities, we are very different people. We each have our own struggles. We each have different tolerances and preferences. And we each have our own spiritual practices and beliefs, even though on the surface they may appear very much the same. Part of what makes our friendship work is that we accept each other’s differences and respect each other’s perspectives. The best part of our friendship is that we draw on those differences and share them with each other. Dialogue occurs. We take turns shutting our mouths and opening our ears. When this happens, we fill each other’s deficits and balance each other out.
I have a challenge for you. Every day for 2 weeks, I’d like you to expose yourself to something that is out of line with your typical interest or viewpoint. Something as simple as changing up what you listen to in your car will work. Or look up different recipes or real estate properties from a different area. It doesn’t matter what it is. I absolutely love doing this with social media. I suggest searching for something you’re unfamiliar with or know you will disagree with and read/watch/listen to the first three results. Perhaps search a political topic on Fox News then immediately read about it on Huffington Post and vice versa. Follow your political opponent on Twitter. My goal is for everyone to read accounts from more than one side of anything in the news: the refugee crisis, presidential campaigns, the Black Lives Matter movement, LGTBQ issues, diversity in the entertainment industry. There is a HUGE discussion going on in the world; I believe it’s our duty to participate. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND SEEK OTHER PERSPECTIVES. BE INFORMED. Do you know I actually went to the KKK’s web site the other night? Yikes! (Admittedly, I am afraid of poking around ISIS too much for fear of DHS agents showing up at my door.)
We all need to have our own values and standards; but to be a healthy person and a healthy society, I believe we also need to acknowledge others’ perspectives. What’s a better way to form your own opinions than by learning from others? I believe it’s dangerous to get all your news from one outlet, and I believe it’s unjust to tune out every view that differs from your own.
To be clear: I’m challenging you to be information-seekers. I’m not asking you to concede your own morals. Do you accept?