IDEALIST ALERT: below is content of an exceptionally idealistic nature. If such things upset you, I suggest looking away now.
GRAMMAR ALERT: Appalling grammar will follow within this post. I am working on it with my mother. Apologies.
It puzzles me, how much we focus on our differences. I say we as I am certainly not immune to this. Is it a survival of the fittest thing? A fear thing? A safety thing? It seems to me that the society we live in, is dominated by the things that divide us. This has been the same throughout history. I was wondering, is it really such an impossible idea that we might put similarities, hopes, dreams and a desire to find common ground at the forefront of our minds when meeting new people?
It is so easy to be uncomfortable around someone we don’t see eye to eye with. How do I communicate effectively with someone who thinks I am, to put it politely, an idiot in the most extreme sense of the word? In my mind a good starting point is to ground the other in humanity. Who are they, where are they from, what was their upbringing, who are their parents/siblings/children? There are similarities.
Now, please, do not misunderstand me. I do not believe it is possible to be friends with everyone in the world! There are certain people that we are unlikely to ever really hang out with. People who basically drive us up the wall, into a state of infuriated despair, or pure disbelief at the bizarre words and ideas flowing from their mouth. The question I have is, why, when we cross paths with someone we do not get on with, can we not behave with love and grace rather than rejection, anger or disdain?
I am a fan of quoting films/books/random things I have seen, and I feel it is time to get a bit of Dumbledore out. No matter what happens, Dumbledore always pursues love of his enemy (once he was grown up of course, we learnt in the last book….. sorry, back to the point). He always encouraged Harry to see Lord Voldemort as a human. This most evil, and wicked of men. When about to be killed he spoke to Draco Malfoy, with love and affection, encouraged him. I know this is just a book. But
This is also a very biblical concept. Jesus said ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do’ whilst being executed. We are encouraged to love our ‘enemies’ but sometimes our enemies are our enemies on a much smaller scale.
Difference, in my mind, is to be valued. We are told that we are all made in the image of God. Therefore, when you look at someone who you fundamentally disagree with, you will see something of God. God is clearly more diverse than we can imagine. With 7 billion people alive now, and obviously many more counting all those throughout history, there is a LOT of God to be seen.
I am an idealist. I hate the world as it is and I believe it needs to change, to change it we have to envision a better world. I am not living in the illusion that it will happen in my lifetime but if I can have an influence, no matter how small, on the world around me to encourage us to communicate then I am satisfied.
I do struggle when I disagree with people. I KNOW I am right, obviously, but sometimes I have to put aside my pride and accept that I may be wrong. I may have misheard, misunderstood, misrepresented, or I may just think in an opposite direction to the person I am talking to.
However, if I ground that person in humanity. If I see that they are as much human as me, then perhaps I can find a place where we can talk of our differences, and at the very least gain an understanding of what the other believes, and why they believe it to be true.
I would hate for everyone in the world to agree on every fact of life. I think it would be dull. We would be clones, wandering around, wearing, thinking, talking the same. Difference is what makes this world so wonderful.
So lets learn to do more than live with it. Let’s learn to embrace it.