Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Different is Beautiful

Can you name someone that you absolutely adore, but you see the world from very different viewpoints?

 I can.  

Because I’ve traveled so much throughout my life, I’ve had the privilege to see people in different countries from different backgrounds, and different cultures. The advantage of international travel was an early life lesson that different didn’t mean wrong. 

Different can be beautiful! God, as Creator, left reflections of himself in all His creation recognizing that fact in the midst of life chaos is a benefit to all. I learned that I could appreciate people for who they are and what they add to the world without always being on the same page. It’s what’s allowed me to love people as much as I do.  I'm not saying people don't do bad things and I'm not saying that all different ways and opinions are right, but I am saying when we live in our echo chambers and stay focused on why we are right, we miss out on perspectives and we limit our world. 

I love social media - I love the connection it brings as I communicate with people I’ve known and loved throughout my life. I love seeing my friends' children grow up, children that without social media, I never would have seen. Social media has an ugly side too, in fact I would say that I have a love/hate relationship with it. 

People forget the beauty of difference or to even have understanding and love in their interactions with people who aren't living on the same page. We don’t have to live in the category of "all or nothing" because that’s not real life. I know our population is full of people who disagree on big issues, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop treating others with love and respect. Wars aren't just fought with guns and grenades, they are often fought with insults and assumptions.  

I have lots of opinions, and I can get on my soapbox often. I go off into a monologue during a conversation with a friend or on a blog post, or even a Facebook post so I am not immune to this topic, but its important that as we share our beliefs that we don't crush the value of others in the process.  

So that begs the question, what's the point? When you call out someone who is doing the opposite of what you believe, and attach a unflattering title to their character in the process, are you trying to change minds or shame them for seeing the world differently?  If you are trying to shame them, then I'd say, just stop, its not nice and you do more damage to your own humanity than theirs.  If its to change their mind, I can tell you I’ve never changed my mind on a topic based on someone’s name calling post slamming my perspective. The changes happen when people feel accepted, feel heard, and are able to dialogue in a conversation about whatever the topic may be.  

Conversation enables you the benefit of getting verbal and nonverbal feedback, and helps you to know when you’ve gone too far.  I’m not saying we should stop sharing our opinions online, I am saying we need to understand that not everyone has the same view and having a different view doesn't make them an idiot.  Share your perspective without name calling, engage in open conversation with someone that does see the world differently and see what you can learn.  Don't share for the purpose of changing minds but for the purpose of loving the people behind the difference. You never know what the outcome might be.  

I am still not the wonderful environment crusader that my former roommate and forever friend, Rebecca is, but in reading her informative posts and having conversations over the years, I live with much more respect for the environment today than I did 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. Rebecca is a shining example of so many in my life that base our relationship on mutual respect in full view of varying perspectives along the spectrum. I love that this is the reality of my quilt of friendships. I can grow as a person and know that I won't get booted from the relationship if we don't agree on everything along the way.  

Let's end divisiveness and leave space for open conversations for the purpose of growing as people and loving each other in the process.  Let's embrace the beauty of different.  

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