I came across this quote today:
You are young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters. ~Plato
Lately I’ve been hit across the face with some strong opinions from people I know mean well, but they sound angry, un-compassionate, and hateful. While I do disagree with their point of view, I try very hard to see things through their eyes in order to keep peace. In the end, I do feel angry inside because they are unwilling to do likewise with me. Their view point sounds judgmental, rather than informed. It sounds closed minded, rather than objective. And yet, these are the very excuses they cling to in order to defend themselves: It is my right to be judgmental and closed minded because that’s what being a [religious/political stand] is – holding tight to what I believe is right, no matter what. They tell me that in order to even explore the other side, listen to the other perspective, it is “accepting it as ok”.
Here’s the thing……Part of being a mature adult is, in fact, clinging to your ideals and beliefs. Without your ideals, religious beliefs, political stands, philosophies, etc, a person tends to just flounder around. It’s good to believe in something. It’s good to know where you stand on things. But here’s where we humans tend to get into trouble – We tend to think our way is the only way (maybe it isn’t?) and all others are wrong (maybe some aren’t?) and it’s my right to tell you so (perhaps it’s not) and if you don’t accept MY way, you’re doomed (probably not). Wouldn’t it be better for all people if we could just listen more? Maybe be willing to accept another opinion/belief system/political stand with out damning it? Maybe being willing to hear someone out, be able to disagree, but have a mature conversation about it?
The older I’ve gotten, yes, my views on things have changed considerably. In fact, they change from year to year based upon life. My fundamental beliefs have not changed much, but how I view the world has. When people are so uptight, immovable, unwilling to hear others, holding so tightly to their beliefs that it alienates people, it is something I can’t respect, no matter what your position in life is. Is it so important that you be so doggone right that you hurt people around you? Is it so important that you show them how wrong they are and you lose friends? Is not life about loving and showing compassion and caring? About relationships?
I respect people who are firm in their beliefs and what they stand for. I stand up for what I believe in too. But when your beliefs come with a message of hate, anger and *gasp* intolerance for others, I’m sorry, I can’t respect that. I don’t hate you for it. I don’t mud sling you for it. I don’t name call. In fact, I respect that you feel so strongly. I don’t feel that you are the final authority on the subject just as I am probably not the final authority either. How about softening your approach? How about being willing to listen, even if you don’t agree? I’m happy to listen to you. I am willing to disagree with you and maintain a relationship with you. Do you have to get so upset, angry, bunchy and bend out of shape because we don’t agree?
I think that if more people took the time to really listen….REALLY LISTEN…. to someone different from them, they might find some commonalities. When you refuse to even hear someone, you cut yourself off from having some great friendships. People are just people. We’re all struggling to get through this life. With a little more love and a lot less judgmentalism, a kinder approach, perhaps our world would be less divided.
Of course, these are just my thoughts….