(photo credit: Peace by Beth on flickr.com. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode.)
This morning, I read this quote,
“We are always trying to convert people to a belief in our own explanation of the universe. We think that the more people there are who believe as we do, the more certain it will be that what we believe is the truth. But it doesn’t work that way at all.” –Paulo Coelho
and decided that if I were ever going to get a tattoo, this would be it. It would have to be on my back or running up and down my legs since it is so long, so I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be going under the needle any time soon.
However, I will keep the quote with me, maybe in my wallet, at least for a while, because it says what I feel every time somebody voices their political or personal beliefs in a way that suggests I am an idiot if I don’t agree with them.
You know the type — ‘It is horrible what named politician did with his/her money. The fact that anybody would want them as president makes me wonder about humanity.’
The person exclaiming this usually knows my political leanings and that I am likely to vote for the named politician, and is trying to show me why this is so wrong. My reaction to such bullying is to want to tell them their narrow-mindedness makes me wonder about their humanity or to tell them about the inappropriate behavior of their favored candidate, but instead I usually change the subject or give them a fake smile and try to walk away from the conversation and them.
The fact that my inclination is to bully THEM in retaliation, to show THEM the error of THEIR ways makes me cringe in embarrassment. What am I hoping to achieve by telling them what to think? By belittling the foundational beliefs upon which they stand because they goes against my deepest beliefs?
I’m all for the intelligent discussion about issues and individuals and the choices we make, but as soon as it becomes proselytizing, my worst nature–to proselytize back at them–rises to the surface.
What I’m beginning to understand better as I get older is that while many truths are universal, there are cultural influences that lead to other truths being relative. I may not always be comfortable with one group’s truths that are in direct conflict with those to which I subscribe, but if the beliefs are seeded deep, I am not going to change their mind by telling them they are wrong, just as they are not going to change mine.
Trying to understand those positions that are in opposition to yours is a first step toward finding some common ground. And in my opinion, finding a place of connection is what will open the door to intelligent discussion, which could lead, ultimately, to the discovery of ways to live side by side with those whose outward behavior and rhetoric appears to be an attack on who we are, how we live, and how we see the world. Next step: World Peace.
Sara steps off soapbox. Walks off into the sunset.
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